“You and I both know that the house is haunted/ and you and I both know that the ghost is me”
-Shakey Graves, “Dearly Departed”
“You’re actually getting in better shape. What are you doing different?”
These words from a friend at the gym who has known me long enough to witness the roller coaster of the last several years. Between the dry heaves and pointing to nothing in particular while bent over in half, I put up the bar and stared at him vacantly and said the first thing that came to mind:
“I showed up.”
I showed up.
Not in the physical sense, for as the thousands of dollars up in flames over eight years can attest, I’ve been coming here for a minute. A huge life shift had occurred at this very gym, and long talks over lobster and sourdough toast, a few divorces, friendships built and abandoned, children raised, competitions with hundreds in attendance, time spent in absolute solitude and a million other moments had passed through this place. And throughout that time, I’ve been coming through the doors and trying, kinda, to sweat out the bad and build the up the good. But was I really showing up?
He gives a stare at my response, almost surprised at the lack of further explanation. Sweat drools down my forehead and into my eyes; with a salty backhanded swipe I repeat myself.
“I showed up. I’ve been fueled, and you know the reason why. So here I am, now.”
It’s so easy to project into the future, to project onto others our own view of hope, what we envision, what our goals may be in so many arenas. And when those hopes or expectations don’t align with reality, it’s a habit to drop into second gear and look in the mirror at the past; it’s so easy to lament, to pine for better times past, to remember the very best and take some comfort in those moments when we were connected with someone, or our hearts felt full. It’s easy to lionize or demonize, depending on your natural inclination, and we’ve all done both. To live in the past or idle away the hours dreaming of a future is to rob yourself of your strongest, most authentic potential: being here, right now. Being present, now. Sweet Baby Jeebus knows, I’m guilty of being absent in the present, of letting foggy memories or wild speculation blind me to what’s occurring right now, right here. It’s cost relationships, it’s made me snap my eyes open and wonder how my boys have gotten so big and how these damn forties just showed up one day and made my hair go grey.
“…. I hear you call my name but no one’s there/ ‘cept a feeling in the air”
No one is calling my name, except those ghosts from the past, no matter how much my soul strains to hear it. We cannot project from a million different paths where our future roads will lead. Rejection, love, pain, endurance, beauty and despair will cross us all, and the very best we can do is drop it into third gear, the present, and give THAT moment the very best we can muster. We can do that, even slowly. We can get there, eight years later, knowing that this very journey doesn’t end until we end. Our hearts and bodies will thank us with results tangible and otherwise if we can just learn in each moment to be there in that moment. I’m not very good at that, yet, but it seems like each day I learn a little more.
To do that?
We need to show up.
Maybe I’ll see you there.
*watch Shakey Graves “Dearly Departed” here. Not responsible for toe tapping and soul-shaking.