Showing Up

There are many things I appreciate about Guatemalan culture— a value of helping people in the moment, over finishing a task at hand, an emphasis on sharing no matter how much or how little you have and the ability to show up and be present.

Most Guatemalans are good at showing up. They get that sometimes the best thing you can do is: just. be. there.

literally. physically. just show up.

Many of you know that I am engaged to a handsome and adorable Guatemalan man (who may not be thrilled that I just called him adorable on the public blog-sphere : ) Because we live far away not many of you actually get to know and interact with him on a day-to-day basis like I do.

There are many reasons I like this man, but one of them is that he is great at showing up. In the moment, when there is a need, he’s the person you call. You need someone to help you tow your car? Gerber will be there. You have a question about paperwork for immigration? He’ll drive you there. You’re making dinner and don’t have avocados. He’ll go buy them for you. He is incredibly loyal, generous with his time and the kind of person you want by your side— always.

And I know he isn’t like this just for me, but for a lot of people. Last night he found out that his friends’ grandmother passed away. So he went to show up. To just sit with his friend. To just be there. I learned that it is customary with a relative dies in Guatemala to have what’s called a velorio (loosely translated- a wake) . Family and friends gather at the family’s house and stay up all night, drinking coffee, eating pan dulces, talking, sitting, and just being together. I imagine the first night after a loved one dies you don’t sleep much any ways- so it seems nice to know you will spend that night with people who care about you and can mourn with you. People who will show up.

I want to be the kind of person who will just show up. And I think in order to just “show up” it means being willing to change, quick to adapt and ready to help in the moment. Often my “style” of helping is to plan ahead—something like, ok, I’ll be there on Saturday morning…or… sure, I can help you write that letter next week. It’s what I called: Planned. Ahead. Help. I know there is nothing wrong with this kind help. But it’s not really the same as “showing up.”

Showing up is something you do now. in the moment. today, not next week.

Because when you think about it, the times we need someone to show up the most are often the times that are not planned.

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6 thoughts on “Showing Up

  1. I loved running into you last night and I love reading your blog. In particular, I appreciate this entry about the Guatemalan “tradition” of showing up. I think this is a quality that my sister-in-law fell in love with in her husband. I cannot wait to meet Gerber and pray many blessings over you during your engagement.

  2. michelle, do you remember when we went to a “velorio” when we were in guatemala for one of the girl’s grandmother’s from proximos pasos? i’ll never forget walking over there and having pan dulce and a hot drink with the family who had all spent the night there just being with them. i remember being so blown away by their hospitality and trying to pray a prayer in spanish (i was like “what is the verb for to pray??”)
    thanks for writing about this beautiful aspect of guatemalan culture!!
    love, alyssa

  3. Alyssa, I DO remember that afternoon very well…I was just telling G about how significant that time was for me too.

  4. So true – and thanks to BOTH of you who have “shown up” so many times for us in just the few short months we’ve known you – to help with a translating job, to help with my children, to celebrate this new baby with me. Thank you both for being “show up” kind of people.

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