When I lived in Swaziland in 2008, I worked with many amazing people - one of whom was an American nun. She had a great sense of humour and perspective which were very much necessary at a time when the country was reeling from the sudden and rapid onslaught of HIV and AIDS.
Life expectancy had just reduced from 60 to 45 years of age between 1997 and 2007 because of the HIV pandemic in the country.
Her advice for life was to: 'Show up, be present, speak your truth and accept the outcome'.
I was reminded of this phrase last week when someone said about a mutual friend: 'The great thing about x is that he always shows up'.
They were not just talking physically.
All too often in life we are there but not really there. We are physically present - but the mind is dipping in and out. Being worried about what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow all hinder our ability to show up. Replaying a conversation, you had with a friend or a loved one or your boss that you're anxious about or feeling burdened by what is happening or not in your life all affect your ability to show up.
There are different aspects to showing up. It is important to arrive on time if at all possible and with enthusiasm - or at least with an open mind. It is important to be grounded and present.
A Harvard Study says that the average person is mentally present about 52 percent of the time. That means that over half the time, the average person is somewhere else.
Most of us have patterns of where our minds go. Some of us are constantly thinking about problems. Others about our partners or our children or what they said or didn't say. Or the boss or colleague or neighbor that irritates us. Or giving out to ourselves about what we should or shouldn't be doing.
Some like to blame others or think about what they should or should not be doing. Or in some cases it is just a matter of thinking about logistics and mental busyness.
If we are busy Judging others, that also affects our ability to show up. Having an open mind - is a big part of showing up. If you have decided in your mind that an event or meeting won't go well before it happens, that limits your ability to be fully present to the opportunities of the meeting - and to really listen to and hear what others have to say.
Showing up also means that you don't sit on the sidelines of life. That you go into the arena of life and take part fully.
This reminded me of the famous speech by former US president Roosevelt that is often celebrated by Brene Brown: 'The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.'
In life it is so important that we show up for ourselves, for others and for the many situations we find ourselves in.