Monday, July 23, 2012

How Do You Show Up, and Why?

Mama and her first born.
(that would be me)
Being a first born has trained me to to be reliable, people know they can count on me to show up. From as early as I can remember, my parents instilled in me a sense of responsibility which has played a foundational role in the values that calibrate my journey.

I know this is not unique to first borns. We all show up to work, to meetings, to dates, to appointments, to commitments. This starts fairly early in life. We show up to breakfast, then we show up to school and if you're raised following any kind of religious practice you show up to services. There is a lot of showing up ingrained in our systems that we hardly even think about anymore. When my family calls on me, I show up to the best of my ability. It's something I am compelled to do, it comes from a deeply rooted sense of purpose and connectedness.

Me again, showing up as flower girl.
I have a distinct memory of how I learned to show up in my early days as a student. I am told that I started reading fairly early, so my parents decided that I was ready for pre-school at the age of 3. What they didn't count on was my emotional total unpreparedness. Apparently, mornings began as a wrestling match struggle involving tantrums and tears. This is now what I remember. What I remember is that my teacher made me the weather girl and it was my job to inform the class whether it was sunny, cloudy, rainy or stormy. Because of this, not only did I show up to my weather-girl duties, I also showed up and thoroughly enjoyed school.

Stepping into the spotlight,
showing up for me.
Over time, my reasons for showing up have been a combination of having to do things out of a more external sense of duty and a doing things out of a deeper sense of purpose. The different roles we play in life, the many callings we heed - they compel us in different ways. And as much as we show up for our job, our people, our promises - this is as much as we should show up for ourselves. What fights, causes and meanings do we have most heart for? What themes and topics get our fire going?

So I ask you what I often find myself asking myself: Are you showing up for you? Are you stepping into your own spotlight and heeding the calls that matter most to you?  And every time I find reasons not to, I remind myself of what it was like to grow up in the dictatorial 80's of the Philippines, surrounded by injustices beyond imagining. And I sound out the words spoken by a subversive nun of the 80's indie film, Sister Stella L. in all the languages of my heart: Kung hindi tayo ang kikilos, sino ang kikilos? Kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa? If not us, then who will move? If not now, when?

My friends, the stage is set. The audience is waiting. And your heart, it burns bright and beats strong. And your heart is beautiful. And every time you show up for you, you are beautiful.