Wednesday, January 5, 2011


You know when you first hear a word or phrase and then you hear it again and again in a matter of days? My latest iteration of this phenomenon, which really should have a name (yes, I know awareness is probably sufficient, but a quippy name would be so much better), is with the french term "mise en place". Credit goes to an episode of Top Chef, after which it showed up in varying contexts and situations. I've comandeered it as my own now, terrible accent and all. And while mise en place is a beautiful thing to say, not to mention a lovely concept for we type-A-the-Container-Store-might-be-my-heaven folks, the phenomenon I will call awareness (for lack of that quippy term) has recently spoken to me in a more profound way--not with a word or a phrase, but in an idea, a notion, a lesson, if you will.

The weeks leading up to the holidays included for me a book club meeting, a Mahjong game (if you don't know it, learn it, its fantastic, not to mention addictive and, in my house, always involves wine), and a fair amount of yoga. Out of each of these delightful endeavors came a consistent theme. At book club, we read Last Night in Montreal about a girl, Lilia, who, as a result of a vagabond childhood, couldn't stay in one place, emotionally or physically. She remained on what she called the surface of life, never diving in, never taking the risks, feeling the fear, experiencing the pain, or relishing the joy. At Mahjong, a dear friend discussed her fear of buying a dog for her kids, already anticipating the death of the animal they don't yet have but know they will love like a family member. All of this made me think about what is required of us, in the bigger sense. How invested must we become in our own existences? I found the answer at yoga - sweet, blessed yoga, where construct is meaningless and questions can be cast aside for their cosmic irrelevance. At the end of a practice, sweaty and splayed out on our mats, we were told to thank ourselves for showing up. Just showing up. Not for executing the best downward dog or flying into crow. But for being there, ready to take on whatever the body and the universe was offering up that day. Showing up. That is what is required of us.

For you fellow over-achievers, showing up might connote mediocrity, but to my mind, it is anything but mailing it in. Showing up is engaging, opening up, being vulnerable to all that life has to offer, the good and the bad. Because, to be sure, you can't have one without the other. That might mean bringing home that new fluffy puppy, or allowing yourself to finally fall in love, or continuing to write in the face of repeated rejection and failure, all of which bring both joy and pain. So this is me, showing up. I hope to see you here.


Anonymous said...

Don't forget the 'praying mantis'. . .

Anonymous said...

Love this post; keep them coming, ladies!