Sunday, April 26, 2009

Just Show Up

This afternoon I watched the new movie, "The Soloist," starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Jamie Foxx. It's based on the true story of Los Angeles Times columnist, Steve Lopez who befriends a schizophrenic homeless man, Nathaniel Ayers, a man with a wonderful musical talent. Lopez sees great promise in Ayers and tries to do many things to help him use his talent. This description is from Peter Rainer's review in the Christian Science Monitor.

"Lopez knows a good story when he sees one, but his involvement with Ayers is fraught with moral and ethical minefields. He tries to get him off the streets; he provides him with a cello to play, a safe place to store it, and a place to practice. He tries, unsuccessfully, and in the face of great resistance, to have Ayers put on psychotropic medications. All the while, Ayers, who favors sequined jackets and plastered-down hairdos, regards Lopez as something of an angel of mercy – his hero. And Lopez knows full well that, in Ayers's fraught mental condition, a hero can easily be downgraded to enemy at the slightest provocation."

I appreciated a phrase at the very end of the story when Lopez wonders what he did wrong, why Ayers doesn't appreciate the things he tried to do for him. Someone tells him to just be his friend, to just "show up."

It made me wonder how many times I've wanted to be there for someone but was afraid of being rejected. It made me think about all the wonderful things I have planned or thought about doing, yet never put them into play because I didn't "show up." How many of us hesitate, perhaps thinking we might not be able to do enough or that what we do would be the wrong thing, maybe taken the wrong way.

"Just show up" reminded me of a story by Parker Palmer in his short book, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation. Palmer wrote about his period of serious depression when he had almost hit bottom. Some of his well-meaning friends tried to help by suggesting various things he might do to feel better. Nothing they did or suggested seemed to help. However, one man visited him every day and just rubbed his feet, saying very little. Palmer wrote of the acceptance and understanding he felt from that friend who made no suggestions, but just "showed up, " was there for him.

In her wonderful poem, "The Invitation," Oriah Mountain Dreamer wrote, "I want to know if you can sit with pain - mine or your own - without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it."

"Just show up." It sounds so simple, doesn't it? Perhaps growing up is being able to just "be there," not offering suggestions, not saying we know just how a person feels, not trying to fix things. Just showing up.

1 comment:

Old Newsie said...