Showing Up

I had an interesting experience today that felt quite meaningful.

With depression in recent months, I’ve felt absolutely worthless and meaningless much of the time. In the worst days, I feel like I don’t even deserve to live. It’s hard to find value in those moments, and the greatest self-care I’ve had is showing up to help others, especially those close to me.

I gave thorough directions for how to drive in the snow to a friend, so she could make it back from housesitting to her apartment, but today, when she started driving through the icy side streets of her neighborhood, she became overwhelmed by the uncleared ice and texted me that she couldn’t make it home.

I was sitting at home, feeling tired, drained, and more or less empty. I responded with a few questions and directions but quickly understood that she wasn’t going to be able to get past this herself, so I told her I would bundle up and come her way. I did a few Zen chants to prepare (a New Year’s resolution), put my coat and cowl on, and left. I showed up.

When I got there, I talked to her, grabbed a rock pick and my windshield scraper out of my car and jumped in her car with her. We drove up the hill, through her neighborhood, and we got to the roundabout where she got stuck. Someone had put up a “Street Closed” sign, and two little old ladies were trying to wave us down the hill in another direction. I looked at the icy street, told her I was pretty sure I could manage it, and convinced her to jump out and move the sign out of our way. The little old ladies yelled at her, but I drove through without any issue, cruising slowly up the hill.

I parked close to her apartment – just a downhill icy slope of about 30 yards between us and the driveway to her parking lot. I was pretty concerned about this last piece. There were cars on either side of the single lane street, and it was all pure ice. She was adamant that she wanted to get past this last bit, so I said I’d do it if I could break up the ice in the worst parts. I took out the rock pick and spent most of half an hour breaking up clear tire tracks in the part where the ice was surrounded by cars on both sides. She was impressed at how readily I was able to do this (I kind of was too, actually!).

At some point, I told her that honestly, I don’t have that much more snow-driving experience than her. Yes, I grew up in rural mountain snowy lands, but our roads were well plowed and treated to melt ice as well. Sure – I spent 20 years in snow and understand the physics of it on a fundamental, embodied level, but I haven’t actually driven much on icy roads that haven’t been plowed or salted.

Eventually, I felt confident enough that an accident was unlikely, and I got in her car with her and slowly, slowly, slowly drove down the hill and even more slowly into her parking lot (which was at the bottom of another hill).

She kept profusely saying that I was her hero and that I continue to show up and help her so much, including a huge amount of a recent move. She made it sound like she owed me her first-born.

However, here’s the thing – showing up like this is who I am. There’s little that’s more meaningful for me, and in many ways, I consider it the simplest version of acting out the compassion of a bodhisattva vow. I hadn’t thought about it much recently until that moment, and it made me realize I do have value. My presence and efforts are meaningful. It was a great beginning to a new year, and ultimately, it makes me feel like I need to work even harder on several other goals I have in terms of things to do and finish, including writing on this blog.

Let this be an opening to a new year.


May this post inspire others to show up for those in their lives whom they can help and who need help.

Gassho!