Sunday, April 12

A liberal NY author tells what she's learned about life on reaching age 61

Anne Lamott is apparently a published author.  She recently turned 61, and posted some thoughts on her Facebook page.  Some highlights (edited by me):
I thought I'd take the opportunity to write down everything I know as of today.

1. All truth is a paradox. Life is a precious, unfathomably beautiful gift, and it is impossible here, on the incarnational side of things. It has been a very bad match for those of us who were born extremely sensitive. It is so hard and weird that we wonder if we are being punked. And it is filled with heartbreaking sweetness and beauty, floods and babies and acne and Mozart, all swirled together.

3. There is almost nothing outside of you that will help in any kind of lasting way.... This is the most horrible truth.
Really?  Perhaps you don't consider God to be "outside of you."  But on second thought, I think you mean this literally.  "The most horrible truth" indeed--if one believes it's true.
4. Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy, and scared, even the people who seem to have it more or less together. They are much more like you than you would believe.... you can’t save, fix or rescue any of them, or get any of them sober.
Okay, we agree that you can't rescue people who don't want to be rescued.  But "Everyone is screwed up..."? Really, Anne?  Maybe that's true of all the people you know.  (She added that "The most degraded and sometimes nearly evil men I have known were all writers who’d had bestsellers," which may say something about her circle.)  But out here in flyover country most people seem to be genuinely friendly and to be hard-working and trying earnestly to raise their kids right.  We have relatively few muggings or junkies shooting up in doorways.  But I'm sure you're right: all the people I know are probably really screwed up, as you say your friends are, but we're just too dumb to see it.  Cuz, you know, all of us out here in flyover country are hicks who can't recognize nuance.
6. Writing: You are going to feel like hell if you never write the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves in your heart — your stories, visions, memories, songs: your truth, your version of things.... That is really all you have to offer us, and it’s why you were born.
"That is really all you have to offer us"?  Really?  Of course you're a writer--and a good one, from what I see--so I don't doubt that's your experience.  And it's understandable that one describes life lessons in terms of their own expertise.  (I use flying metaphors a lot.)  But the rest of us realize we all have lots of things to offer, in many realms--not just in our area of expertise.
8. Families: hard, hard, hard, no matter how cherished and astonishing they may also be. At family gatherings where you suddenly feel homicidal or suicidal, remember that... Earth is Forgiveness School.  You can do it.... You will be amazed.
11. God: Goodness, Love energy, the Divine, a loving animating intelligence.... You will worship and serve something, gotta choose. You can play on our side, or Bill Maher’s and Franklin Graham’s. 
I don't know much about Franklin Graham, but from your phrasing I get the impression you find something objectionable about him.  I'd be curious to know what that is.  And when you say "our side," what side is that?
11. [sic] Faith:  If I could say one thing to our little Tea Party friends it would be this: Fundamentalism, in all its forms, is 90% of the reason the world is so terrifying. 
"Our little Tea Party friends"?  Looks like you and the editors at Salon are on the same page of the playbook.  So you feel members of the Tea Party are fundamentalists?  Do you feel the killers of ISIS are--and the 9/11 killers were--also "fundamentalists"?  Do you regard both groups as equally "terrifying"?
12. Jesus: Jesus would have even loved horrible, self-obsessed you.... But He would hope that you would perhaps pull yourself together just the tiniest bit....

14. Death. Wow. So f-ing hard to bear, when the few people you cannot live without die. You will never get over these losses--and are not supposed to....their absence will be a lifelong nightmare of homesickness for you. All truth is a paradox. Grief, friends, time and tears will heal you.

I think that’s it, everything I know.  I wish I had slipped in what Ram Dass said: that when all is said and done, we’re all just walking each other home.
Ignoring major differences of opinion, I like her writing style, and agree with most of her conclusions about life.  It would seem she's tormented and self-obsessed, so naturally it follows that everyone must suffer from the same things.  A very normal conclusion.  In any case, good writing.


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