And keep showing up…
On Monday evenings I used to attend a running club. I say ‘used to’ because I have not attended in quite some time, ever since my move, as it is now in a different community which would involve driving over the Lion’s Gate Bridge at the end of rush hour. Bridge, rush hour, Monday, running, generally raining does not add up to very much motivation. I have started my search to find a new running club, closer to where I live now and with less of a commute, so I can’t add that to my list of reasons to not go. Joining a running club at all was a huge step for me. I started running because it was solitary. I could go whenever I wanted, wherever I wanted, for however long I wanted. I could simply run out the door, headphones in and go until I had cleared my head. There was no obligation to keep up, accommodate someone else’s desires for route, pace, duration and there was no need to talk. Except to myself. Going with a group was intimidating. I am not the fastest runner. I was afraid of being the slowest, of being unable to keep up, of being so out of shape the group would leave me in their dust and I would just wait in the same spot until I saw them running back so I could join in again. None of this happened. Instead I met a fantastic group of motivated and motivating people, who not only loved running, but loved encouraging new members and just having a good time together.
One evening I found myself, on the “cool down” jog back to our muster point, running alongside one of the fastest and strongest runners in our group. We were chatting, as much as I could at the end of an hour run, when he said to me, “all you need to do is keep showing up.” I thought about this. Week after week, I showed up at 6:30 on Monday evening to run with the group. Some weeks I was slower, some weeks I was faster, but overall my strength, my speed and my endurance improved. Week over week some element of performance was improved. I accomplished this by showing up.
Sometimes all I can do is show up, but the simple act of showing up, of being there and being present is really all I can ask for. The idea of showing up has been rumbling around in my head. What does that look like? Does that mean simply being somewhere and taking up space? Does it mean that I can show up at work or at the gym and mail it in?
One of the first books I read on my personal growth journey was ‘The Four Agreements’ – by Don Miguel Ruiz. This book altered the way I view life and interactions with myself and others. The Agreements themselves are simple, straightforward and each one elicits a head a nod, a murmur of approval and often, an “of course! It seems so obvious!” Yet the Agreements are incredibly difficult to put into action. They are something that I attempt to be constantly and consistently mindful of but find that, although obvious in their goals and attempted achievements, they are in opposition to what we have been socially conditioned to believe or think or act.
The fourth of the Four Agreements simply states ‘Always Do Your Best’. Given our current social context, I would generally take that to mean to give my all, give 110% (I’ve never understood this, how can I give more than 100%?? But I also don’t understand size 0, how can you have a size that is nothing? That would mean that there is nothing there to put clothes on), go flat out with every ounce of my being all and every time. But that’s not what I take this Fourth Agreement to mean. I equate this with Just Show Up. Ruiz states in his book:
Under any circumstance, always do your best, no more and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next. Everything is alive and changing all the time, so your best will sometimes be high quality, and other times it will not be as good…In your everyday moods your best can change from one moment to another, from one hour to the next, from one day to another…Regardless of the quality, keep doing your best…
Just show up. Ruiz goes on to describe that if we keep doing our best, our best will improve over time, but there will always be times where our best will not be as “good” as the time before. Just show up.
Not every run, workout, writing piece, photo, work document is going to be better than the one before it. And that’s ok. If I have done my best and I have shown up then there is no need to feel “less than”, there is no need to berate or feel guilty or shameful.
Just show up. Wherever you are at. Just show up. Do your best everyday, whatever your best is and feel confident knowing you gave that and that’s all you can ask for.
The Four Agreements: A Toltec Wisdom Book, By Don Miguel Ruiz http://www.miguelruiz.com/