A few days before she turned 61, Anne Lamott wrote down everything she knew for sure about life and writing. There’s not a lot of certainty in life but Anne does a candid and humorous job of pointing out twelve of her “for sures.”
She’ll Help You Laugh, If Not Learn
Anne’s one of my favourite writers.
She’s an activist, former alcoholic and Sunday School teacher. Are you familiar with her writing? If not, her words are worth a moment of your day. She’ll make you laugh (at least smile) or think about life and that will be good for you.
It was for me.
Anne shared the following in a TED talk.
12 Truths From Life And Writing
#1 – The first and truest thing is that all truth is a paradox. It’s so hard and weird that we sometimes wonder if we’re being punked. It’s filled simultaneously with heartbreaking sweetness and beauty, desperate poverty, floods and babies and acne and Mozart, all swirled together.
#2 – Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes – including you.
#3 – There is almost nothing outside of you that will help in any kind of lasting way, unless you’re waiting for an organ. You can’t buy, achieve or date serenity and peace of mind. We can’t arrange peace or lasting improvement for the people we love most in the world.
#4 – Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy and scared, even the people who seem to have it most together. They are much more like you than you would believe, so try not to compare your insides to other people’s outsides. It will only make you worse than you already are.
#5 – Chocolate with 75 percent cacao is not actually a food.
#6 – Writing.
Every writer you know writes really terrible first drafts, but they keep their butt in the chair. That’s the secret of life. That’s probably the main difference between you and them. They just do it.
#7 – Publication and temporary creative successes are something you have to recover from. They kill as many people as not. Try to bust yourself gently of the fantasy that publication will heal you, that it will fill the Swiss-cheesy holes inside of you. It can’t. It won’t. But writing can. So can singing in a choir or a bluegrass band. So can painting community murals or birding or fostering old dogs that no one else will.
#8 – Families. Families are hard, hard, hard, no matter how cherished and astonishing they may also be. Again, see number one. Remember that in all cases, it’s a miracle that any of us, specifically, were conceived and born. Earth is forgiveness school. It begins with forgiving yourself, and then you might as well start at the dinner table.
#9 – Food. Try to do a little better. I think you know what I mean.
#10 – Grace.
Grace is spiritual WD-40, or water wings. The mystery of grace is that God loves Henry Kissinger and Vladimir Putin and me exactly as much as He or She loves your new grandchild. Go figure.
#11 – God just means goodness. It’s really not all that scary. Emerson said that the happiest person on Earth is the one who learns from nature the lessons of worship. So go outside a lot and look up. My pastor said you can trap bees on the bottom of mason jars without lids because they don’t look up, so they just walk around bitterly bumping into the glass walls. Go outside. Look up. Secret of life.
#12 – Death. It’s so hard to bear when the few people you cannot live without die. You’ll never get over these losses, and no matter what the culture says, you’re not supposed to. We Christians like to think of death as a major change of address, but in any case, the person will live again fully in your heart if you don’t seal it off. Like Leonard Cohen said, “There are cracks in everything, and that’s how the light gets in.”
What did you learn from Anne? What’s one of the things you know for sure? Please leave a comment below. Thank you.
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