Show Up

January 19, 2015

I learned a lesson today. I’ve learned it many times, but it’s become more resonant in recent years.

It’s not enough to think good thoughts. It’s great, but it’s not enough. It’s movement in the right direction, but it’s not all there is. It’s comforting and peaceful to know your heart and to feel, genuinely, humane and loving thoughts–toward people, toward the planet, toward social justice movements. But true passion and compassion require action. I know this. I’ve read gorgeous and compelling words that say just that. David Breaux speaks about it. I know this.

You gotta show up. Being there counts. Being counted counts. Symbols matter. Action matters.

Here’s a very moving picture I saw a bit ago, taken this morning at the Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration in downtown Davis:

robb and mlk

Beautiful (photo credit goes to Jacqueline Clemens who posted this a few minutes ago on Facebook; thanks, Jacqueline).

I use this photo, and not dozens of other stirring photos of MLK floating around the internet this morning, because it was taken at an event I’d planned to attend, and then didn’t. I’d have loved being in a theater full of people honoring a fellow human being who stood up. I’d have loved hearing the above-pictured guy, because I have never been so enthusiastic about a city council candidate, ever, and I think he brings heart, soul and true compassion to the job of running our city, for which I am ecstatic.. and it would have been inspiring to hear him, and others on the program, speak. I’d have loved showing up and being that part of our community, among those people who care.  I like those people.

I didn’t go… because..

…My hip hurt and I knew I couldn’t march at the end of the program; I’d decided this was a weekend of rest and healing and I didn’t want to aggravate my stupid injury; I did want, however, to do my Monday morning workout and work the body parts that don’t hurt; I was cozy in my chair drinking coffee and reading at the very moment I knew I needed to get up if I was going to make it; I needed to wash my hair and it was going to be wet if I went; I was unsuccessful last night in motivating Peter to go with me and he was still asleep anyway; I wanted to avoid somebody I thought might be there.  Those were the reasons.

Not great reasons. Especially that last one. Jesus. (Maybe the wrong guy to evoke.)

Instead, I scanned through Facebook stuff–quotes, pictures. I thought about his life, his work, our country, how far we’ve come, how un-far we’ve come, about the movie Selma. I said to myself as part of my rationale, it’s okay, you know your heart.

Well… I wish I’d gone.

Not wanting to dwell in beat-self-up land, just wanting to learn and do better. There is a lot to do.