Check out my article – Just Show Up (PDF link) – in the Austin South Asian local newspaper. See page 7 and 8.
One of the simplest and yet most profound lessons I’ve learnt in life is to “Just Show Up”. Many times, I have heard the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar say that if we take one step towards some goal or opportunity, nature takes 10 steps towards supporting us. The funny thing is that showing up really doesn’t ask for too much at all.
Whenever we encounter an opportunity of any kind, we tend to get completely entangled in planning the doing of things and wondering about the results. Even before a single step is taken, we end up with grandiose opinions on how things could be done and where they might end up. For whatever reason, if we believe that this fantasy is beyond our comfort zone, we decide to not even show up. This pattern leads to countless lost opportunities and retrospective regrets.
The smartest thing to do is to just show up – before too many opinions and biases taint us. We don’t even have to think about doing anything. There are no commitments when we just show up, we can always leave. But this approach gives the opportunity a fair chance of materializing, at least when compared to not showing up at all which essentially equates to zero.
Over time, just being present translates into doing. The only requirement is to give our 100% at showing up and being present. This is when nature comes in to support us. Notice the key word “being” in “being lucky” or “being at the right place at the right time”. Luck or chance can only manifest when we show up. We can only win the lottery when we buy a lottery ticket – a trivial but true example. Going further, we can only progress when we show up with a willing mind. We can only learn if we show up at school with a blank slate. Our careers will only flourish if we show up for unknown challenges with eagerness. Our relationships will only grow if we show up for our families and friends from a space free of past prejudices. Anything that gets our committed attention only grows, and the first step is to show up with an open mind.
We do commit to many things in life, but inevitably with tons of baggage – opinions, judgments, experiences. Are we genuinely growing or are we just stuck in a beaten circle ploughed by our past experiences? How fruitful have our choices really been? Are we really showing up for ourselves?
Our lives are like beautiful story books – full of potential on the cover and in the first few chapters. Our inexperienced mistakes make for great entertainment but also cause great suffering. Meanwhile, our experiences only lead to calculated routines and immaculate boredom. The climax concludes with a story about nothing. Avoiding this flop of a story book is the essence of spirituality.
The reality is that 90% of effort is in showing up with a mind free of rigid opinions. Once that hurdle is crossed, we can resist participating only so long. And the universe conspires for the success of those who are present and willing.