Fifty-three years into this and I think I’ve figured something out.
To be sure, fifty-three’s not much, especially when it comes to understanding how this works; for all I know that may take five hundred and fifty-three years. Maybe our soul comes back over and over until we get it and then that poor beleaguered thing can take a rest. I have no idea. I wonder if there’s like a Canyon Ranch for souls. I can just hear the conversations there:
Christallfuckingmighty it was his third go-round and that idiot still couldn’t be happy with what he had. We gave him talent, time, love and he managed to take a wrecking ball to it, again. Own worst enemy, all of them. Why do we bother?
Oh, believe me, I know … we gave this one a good job, decent kids, a wife who loved him and this asshole still went off and slept with his secretary. I thought we had that licked in the second incarnation, but of course not. If only it were that easy.
I know, I know. All of them, they get a beautiful fucking world to live in … do you think they even notice that the trees love them? That the birds are singing for them? Most of them wake up with a hangover!
Sheesh. No kidding. All this garbage … computers, cell phones! Who let that Zuckerberg dude get away with Facebook?
(All shake their heads). Yea. That was definitely not one of our better moments.
Ha. No kidding. They think it’s funny … zombie apocalypse. Clueless most of them. So lazy, too.
Obviously I have no idea if souls swear as much as I do, but I hope so. I’ll bet they get tired, those poor souls, of trying to help us dumb humans get it right.
I left the east coast the other day, early in the morning. When I sat down in my seat on the plane in Albany I looked over and saw that one of my southern Vermont neighbors was there with her son. Small world. It made us so happy.
Sitting beside me was a woman who went to St. Lawrence (#metoo), whose son went to St. Lawrence and who is living in the North Country and working at St. Lawrence. She was older and I could see that this early morning flight business was hard for her. I had watched as one of the idiots at security had made her take off all her warm layers, as if this elegant woman from upstate New York on her way to see her son in Colorado was a security risk. It turned out we were on the next flight together and it turned out that we had a tight connection and it turned out, via the brilliant strategy employed so often these days by flight itinerary specialists, that the next plane was many miles of airport walking away.
Normally I walk fast. I like walking fast. I can walk faster than the average citizen. But there was no way I was going to leave my St. Lawrence friend to worry about whether or not she was going to make her next flight, so I walked with her through the Chicago airport v e r y s l o w l y. It was not easy. I fought the urge to pull ahead the whole way. Fast walking is a tough habit to break.
We were the last to board and before we did she turned to me and looked me right in the eyes and I thought she was going to cry, she was so grateful that I had stayed with her. She thanked me like crazy, wished me a happy Thanksgiving and safe travels, all that stuff.
I mean, come on. How hard is it, people? How hard is it to take a look around, assess the situation and figure out who needs a hand?
Arrival in Reno. My son, Nate, and two of his friends who have driven from Montana, meet me and off we go, starting our trek in a sunny autumn afternoon and ending in a wintry, icy evening. Sam, my other son, had offered to host Thanksgiving. They’re young, in college, it’s all still new. But they banded together and did the shopping and by the time I got there the cooking was in full swing. Two friends, southerners: Tennessee and Kentucky, had been smoking a brisket all day; turkey in oven. Superstar McKennna chopping and mixing and roasting like crazy and smiling through all of it. She had prepared a cooking timeline for the day! They had it. Man, did they have it.
My brother and his wife and kids, there from San Francisco. Dylan, about to turn 7, had made placemats. At the table: a whole bunch of twenty-year-olds; me, the oldest; my nephew Justin, at 4, the youngest. We went around: I’m grateful for … pretty much everyone’s was some version of … I’m grateful to be right here at this table with all of you people right now.
So I think, here’s the thing. I think I’ve figured out that 90% of life is about showing up; 7% or so … projects, stuff you want to get done; 2% travel to see how great this place is and 1% should be drinking water. You gotta stay hydrated to get through this.
90% of life is about showing up. Not for your self-involved, personal gain vanity project either, that’s not what I’m talking about. For your family, for the people you love, for the people who love you and for the people who need your help.
Yea. I get it. You were born to run or write or sing or play poker or trade bonds, whatever. You’ve got talent; everyone does. The only word that matters in that sentence is “born.” You were born, therefore you have parents and possibly siblings. You might even have an aunt, maybe a few cousins. If you’re lucky you had or have grandparents. Maybe you have kids by now. Super lucky!
You have people. Showing up to be with them is the deal.
We’re here together in Lake Tahoe for a few days and we’re not doing anything special: skiing, swimming, playing ping-pong, throwing snow at each other, eating. Talking. Hugging. There’s a huge dog in the mix: Diesel, a Bernese Mountain Dog. Lots of petting the big dog.
Sure, I know you want to get things done while you’re here. You should. And you can. There’s plenty of time in a day for all of it. This business about being so busy; knock it off. It’s fabricated and you know it. It’s a choice.
You have people. Choose them. They’re fascinating, interesting, amazing, kind, funny. They cook and they tell good stories. Go outside with them. Play in the snow, take a walk, take a drive, listen when they tell you what’s happening in their lives, help them figure things out.
Show up in their lives and keep showing up. Make every effort to show up for your people. I know you didn’t get to choose the people in your family and I know they drive you a little bonkers from time to time. Too bad, they’re yours and they matter. Get over it. Love them. They deserve it.
Also, find the good people in this world, the ones that vibrate on a high frequency, make them your friend or your partner and show up for them, too. Keep them; discarding is what we do with the trash, not people. They will help you grow, evolve and become a better version of you.
Eventually you’re going to die and then your opportunities to show up in the life you have now will end. You might die next week or you might die in thirty years, no one knows. Pretend you’re going to die next week.
Actually, hold on, wait. When you go outside today, and you should, you should go outside, think to yourself, as you cross the threshold and leave the house, today is my last day here. Imagine it to be true.
Because it actually might be. So show up. OK? Amen.