Listen, you can pretend to care but you can’t pretend to show up


Have you ever felt that it can often be so easy to pretend to care.  A raised brow. A question followed by a direct gaze.  Sometimes you really do care but you can’t quite go that extra mile to give a real human touch to your supposed caring. It is so easy to pretend now.  And everyone knows it.


A week ago, a colleague mentioned that she was very sad as her friend (her longtime friend) had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I expressed my sympathy and noted that these days breast cancer is way more survivable.   That she should have hope. She then noted that this was the second time her friend got cancer.  Her first fight with cancer happened ten years ago. Thus, she was worried this second time around would have a much more dire outcome. She then noted she was going to travel to see her friend.  A week later I noticed that she had not traveled. I asked her about her friend and what was happening.  She was surprised I remembered and thanked me for asking. She seemed genuinely surprised and touched. I thought nothing of it. Why wouldn’t I remember? I take my B6 vitamin diligently, after all.


But her genuine surprise reminded me of that quote of “You can pretend to carebut you can’t pretend to show up“- George L Bell.  Not that this was exactly on point. But I was reminded of how we often are so mired in pretense. We like a post. We select the “wow” button.  We say the right words. But when it counts, do we show up?  Do you show up with the chicken soup? Do you show up to literally place your hand on their arm? Do you show up and and provide a ladder? You can’t be comforting with just a few words of solace and nothing more.


Action. Being there. Because you can. Because you want to.

18 replies »

  1. Very timely. I have been showing up – and it is tearing my guts up. No writing when you are that worried about someone else AND have bunches of unfinished things of your own.
    But you can’t later say, “I wish I had spent more time with her,” when you really could have.


  2. I know one exactly like that! She just says the right words but never does anything. People’s first impression (of her) was always nice but after that, you’ll just be left hanging.


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