Parable # 33: You Can’t Just Not Show Up

    A Parable by Donald Lee

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    (This week is the 36thinstallment of the book, “The Band Director’s Lessons About Life”, which TCRN is publishing as a series during 2020. This week, band director and spiritual author Donald Lee relates a parable about facing the consequences of our actions. For a complete listing of previous episodes in this series, click here.)

    You can’t just not show up!

    Most of life is showing up. You do the best you can, which varies from day to day.

    REGINA BRETT(American author, inspirational speaker, and newspaper columnist)

    “Reggie, our Christmas concert was last night, and you didn’t show up. What’s going on?”

    This was Reggie’s second year in band, grade eight, and he wasn’t very interested. He’d joined again at the start of the year by his own choice. I was a bit surprised but happy. However, he’d quickly soured on the whole experience and tried to change options. But our school administrators, to their credit, are reluctant to acquiesce to students’ fickleness. So Reggie was stuck in band for the year. I tried to be gentle with him yet still encourage him to do his best.

    “I had to babysit,” was Reggie’s feeble response.

    “Babysit!” I was shocked. Sometimes both parents have to work to make ends meet, and sometimes that means older kids have to look after younger siblings. It’s been a fact of family life forever, but it’s not an excuse for missing our Christmas concert. It wasn’t the real reason for his absence. It was a cover. However, I took him at his word and responded to that.

    “All of us have family responsibilities, Reggie, but you also have a responsibility to the band. You let them down. Your parents understand that. You could have found someone else to babysit. You didn’t even mention it to me yesterday. If this was a problem, I would have helped you find a solution. This is a solvable problem, Reggie, and you know it.”

    Reggie was also on the basketball team, which was more important to him than band.

    “What if it had been a basketball tournament? Would you have missed that to babysit?”

    “Maybe,” Reggie lied.

    “Your coach would bench you for that.”

    “Yeah, likely,” Reggie admitted dejectedly.

    “Reggie, you can’t just not show up. That’s simply not acceptable, not in band, not in basketball, not in life. Half of life is just showing up. I know you haven’t mastered this music. Nobody in the grade-eight band has. Everybody is making mistakes. You show up and do your best even if your best is lousy.

    “If you have a basketball game against a better team, you don’t stay home. You know you’re going to lose, but you go out there and do your best anyway. When you’re down one hundred to twenty you still do your best. It’s the same in music. You don’t let your teammates down. You don’t shirk your responsibilities. You do the best can, win or lose. That’s what life’s about.

    “Also, you learn far more by playing a better team and losing than you do by playing a weaker team and winning. It feels good to win, but you learn more from losing. The same is true in band. After a good performance, you pat yourself on the back and convince yourself how great you are. That’s pride. After a bad performance, you think about what went wrong and try to make yourself better. That’s humility. That’s progress.

    “We have other performances coming up this year. I don’t want you to miss one again. Show up. Do you best. Okay?”

    Reggie mumbled an agreement.


    We have to “show up” spiritually—show up to the awareness that we are spiritual beings on a spiritual journey. We “create” ourselves at every moment of the ever-moving “now.” We are constantly “meeting self,” experiencing who we really are, manifesting the person we have created ourselves to be.

    Remember, this is a spiritual process—part of spiritual reality. Spirit creates. Mind builds. Physical manifests. As mentioned earlier, we create ourselves through our thoughts, words, and actions. Once we create ourselves, we experience what it is to be that person. To change our experience, we change our thinking, speaking, and acting. Then we become a slightly different person and experience what it is to be that new person. This is the spiritual performance cycle of life.  “Showing up” to life, in a spiritual sense, means consciously acknowledging that life works this way—instead of ignoring our responsibility for our own lives and wondering why things happen to us.

    Whatever difficulties we face, we are experiencing the consequences of our own choices, just as Reggie was unprepared for the concert due to his own lack of practice. If we don’t like this experience, we need to make different choices, just like Reggie needs to practice before the next concert to experience a different performance. To “not show up” in any sense is an attempt to avoid the very consequences we have created. It simply doesn’t work. The consequences—the problems, if we see it that way—will be there until we deal with them.

    Of course, our life doesn’t change overnight because we make a different choice today. Everything happens through time in this physical world. Reggie will have to practice his instrument for weeks to develop the skill he needs for the next concert. We have to change our thoughts, words, and actions for weeks or longer to see the different consequences play out in our experience of life.

    But only we have the power the change our own lives. No one else can do if for us. And blaming our life’s problems on others cannot absolve us of our true responsibility, and does nothing to help us. “Showing up” means taking responsibility for our life.

    We are spiritual beings having a human experience. Show up to this consciousness and all your “performances,” whether they’re great or lousy, will move you forward on your spiritual path. You will gradually become a better “musician” one step at a time in the great performance cycle of life.

    We have to show up to the consciousness that we create every step on our spiritual journey.

    Donald Lee is a spiritual author and speaker. This article is part of a weekly series for 2020 in which TCRN is publishing his inspirational book, The Band Director’s Lessons About Life: Volume 1 – 50 Parables on Life’s Performance Cycle, in serial form – one parable per week. You can learn more about the author at his website:, or order a copy of his complete book on Amazon, or get his free mini eBook and sign up for his weekly blog. Follow Donald on Facebook.

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