I feel deficient in the heroic, celebrity status my ego demands. It’s neither an enviable nor horrible sensation, but there seems to be a lack of grandiosity or even significance to life. On such occasions I remember Woody Allen’s immortal words, “Showing up is 80% of life.” Is that really true?
Yesterday, I showed up at a family reunion and it brought a quick reminder of philosopher Woody.
I was talking to my wife’s niece, Yuko at a family gathering. Yuko mentioned “..how much fun we have at these family reunions! It’s such an unexpected delight to schmooze with my sister again and discover what the cousins are up to.”
“How long ago has it been since you last met?” I asked. “After all, you live less than an hour apart.”
“It’s been about four years now. Yes, four years ago. That was when you and Minako came to Japan to visit us the last time. Sadly it seems our family circumstances prevent us from getting together except when you are here.”
That’s terrible because the family is close and they are so cheerfully high-spirited when they do gather. An identical irony had occurred only a week earlier, when my wife ran into her Tokyo high school classmate. They both agreed what a remarkable, talented class they had been. Reunions were such a joy when they gathered to relive their youth or retell nostalgic old stories. Minako asked the classmate, “Are there any discussions or plans for another reunion?”
“Alas no.” was the reply. “The only occasion we meet is when you come back to town.
This is crazy. People who blossom in each other’s company, who otherwise would love to socialize should do so regularly.
Or, another way to look at those two ironic circumstances is to realize how much joy we can bring to others by just showing up. Making an appearance doesn’t confer pop idol, celebrity status, not even 80% of the time: But in our case, these visits brought profound significance to friends, relatives, and Yuko. We were heroes and completely unaware of it.