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Showing up is _ /_ the battle.

Please fill in the blanks. Which fraction did you come up with?

The traditional 1/2? A third? Two-thirds? 100%? A perfect 10? Well, the last two aren’t really fractions, but you catch my drift. This is a great saying and I think its answer s/b (should be) well thought out. There’s no doubt any solution offered stems from each respondent’s subsequent expectation(s).

A couple of years ago, I was standing, waiting at the corner of Broadway & Columbus in San Francisco’s (Italian/Chinese) North Beach district. The traffic signal there was flashing a brilliant bright red. STOP! I was accompanying an old friend of mine about to celebrate her 50th birthday. By that time, in the spring of ’07, we’d already known each other about 40 years. We were headed to the House of Nanking on Kearny St. to party, mostly because it was recommended by a mutual childhood friend as being a Rachel Ray favorite. (After having lived outside the U.S. for several years prior) I honestly asked, “Who’s Rachel Ray?” Needless to say, I was momentarily shunned as a result of my culinary naïveté.

Still on that well-trafficked multi-cultural corner, we waited. Next to us came a stranger. A man who purposefully engaged my friend in conversation. I watched. What the stranger had to say can’t necessarily be repeated in a blog whose recipients may be under 18 years. I didn’t interrupt or defend, instead I watched. My friend was diplomatic and dignified. She fought through her impatience and did her best to tolerate the red signal. After turning green, we crossed the street and I smiled at my friend. I was proud of her. Her patience, her compassion…

…until she said, “Why don’t those people just get jobs?” She was referring to that man, one of the many, many homeless people in San Francisco. One of the many in nearly any urban American city. My heart sank. Although I still loved my friend, I felt as if I didn’t know her anymore. She didn’t get it, and after time, I never should have expected her to. Her response was as ignorant as racism.

Most homeless people don’t have the capacity to function (mentally), to have a job, to have ANY kind of job. Most people choose not to know or accept this. They’re ignorant. They haven’t been there. During my time in San Francisco, I chose not to give money to people who asked for it; I needed it myself. But, I did something else, I listened. I could afford this, and I was grateful to lend my ear and my voice when I was able. It was a sincere gift.

Now in 2010, I try to show up at least ½ the time. I take more chances. Maybe I believe in my own abilities a little bit more than I used to, but one thing remains; I expect nothing from no one. I never expect anyone to appreciate or understand who I am, where I am or where I’ve been. Only I can do that. I hope you feel the same about your own journey. “Keep going” is my best advice. There’s only one hero in any story and you’re it. Only you can create its happy ending.
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