Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Discipline of Showing Up

"Along a Wilderness Trail"


I chuckled yesterday morning as I read a comment from a friend on Facebook who lamented: “The best I can do today is to just show up.” My guess is that the person who wrote that was probably not having a great day, and I can only wonder what baggage might have been included in that one simple line - perhaps a boring job, the exhausting thought of another day of cleaning the house or taking care of the kids, maybe an illness, a financial or a relationship problem?

Yesterday, as I read that little “Monday morning lament,” I thought to myself, “In some sense that’s exactly what any one of us does on any given day: we just show up for life.” And in fact, on a spiritual journey just showing up is probably a discipline to be intentionally practiced.

I actually know very few people who wake up in the morning with a big smile on their faces, jumping out of bed with unbridled enthusiasm, eager to begin their everyday routine lives. Most people get up with a bit of a yawn, ready to dive into an ordinary day in their ordinary lives.

Sometimes people may be discouraged by their lives, perhaps angry that things didn’t turn out as expected.  Maybe they had hoped for a better job, a more fulfilling career, a more caring spouse, a more enjoyable retirement experience. And so they get up in the morning hoping to drag themselves though yet another day.

I am reminded of something I read a while back in Alex Luckerman’s book, An Undefeated Mind:

An undefeated mind isn’t one that never feels discouraged or despairing.
It’s one that continues on in spite of it.
Possessing an undefeated mind means never forgetting that defeat comes not from failing but from giving up.

I’m not at all saying that everyone should just accept his or her fate in life, however miserable it may be, nor am I saying that we should never hope for anything more or work to make our lives happier or more fulfilled - in fact I am saying the opposite. In my experience I have discovered that, rather than resisting whatever comes our way, when we are really able to embrace life as it comes to us in all its many varied forms, we often find a joy and purpose we never might have imagined.

I also know lots of folks who turn to religion or engage in a spiritual quest as a means of escaping the doldrums of their ordinary lives, especially if they feel as if they are “stuck in a rut.” They expect that their times of meditation or prayer will take them to the heights of spiritual ecstasy; but that rarely happens and in fact I’m not sure a spiritual path should ever help us to escape from where we may find ourselves in life. A spiritual path should help us to be present to our lives - that’s why I say just showing up is a spiritual discipline.


The more we are able to embrace life as it comes to us, the more we find the fulfillment we all seek.

In his book, The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle wisely observes:

Whatever the present moment contains
Accept it as if you had chosen it.
Always work with it and not against it.
Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy.
This will wonderfully transform your whole life.

Buddhist teacher, Susan Murphy, offers this wisdom.

Don’t miss anything.
Everything counts.
 Everyone counts.
Find out what it all means and do what it wants of you.

Today I’ m just showing up for life. Springtime has already bloomed in the desert and I don’t want to miss anything that comes my way.


1 comment:

  1. Lovely post...just showing up in whatever way we can is enough. Thanks Paul xx

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