Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Showing up is one of those things that results from “should” winning the argument against “shallow.” Shallow says, “I’m so tired. I worked so hard this week. I need to stay home and rest up for the next week. I deserve a break. If I don’t go, I can stay wrapped around this book, bowl of popcorn, martini, television program, etc.” Showing up is about digging down into the hard dirt, and doing what you should do.
Here’s an example. A friend of our son’s is a pianist. The pianist has a younger brother who is an actor/singer. My husband and I attended both boys’ performances. Each event turned out to be hugely entertaining and beat out sitting in front of The Tube a thousand to one. But the best part of both evenings came when the boys saw that we had come. It’s not that we are fast friends. We are just parental units whom they know through our sons. But it made us all feel good. Enough other people showed up so that together, seated around stages in darkened rooms, we became audiences. Audiences make it worthwhile. Audiences witness. We want witnesses. Audiences like this are usually composed of people who understand the importance of supporting the doers in this life. The opposite experience troubles us.
You may have been to a book signing (or any event) where only a few people showed up. It’s sadder than an empty peanut butter jar. The preparation, the organizing, the phone calls and advertising have been done in a glow of anticipation. The author sweated kumquats to write the book, and sweated bowling balls to have it published. The evening comes, and the author sits in the bookstore, trying to look pleasant whilst their insides feel like curdled milk. Eau de sadness fills the air, drowning out the heady aroma of ink on paper that permeates such stores. The lights appear dim, somehow, and the perky promoter looks like road kill.
Showing up bears its best fruits after you’ve done it. Showing up has all the attributes of discipline but with more panache and with the extra reward that comes from doing unto others. Showing up can be selfish, too. Showing up on the page is the way books and music are written. Showing up for school is how you learn. Showing up for life is how we grow. Showing up day after day when it’s cold, when you’re tired; you’re too old, too young, too bored, or too afraid is what the quote is about. The people that win in this life are the ones that just plain show up. The other 20%, of course, is what you do when you get there. Showing up at your fitness club illustrates it perfectly. I needn’t say more.
“Try not. Do,” says that hirsute Jedi, Yoda, in Star Wars. That’s it in a nutshell, I’d say. Suit up and show up. Then, try not. Do.