“So what of the only constant is change? Why bother touching up your roots?” Anne
Anne Lamott’s new book, Almost Everything: Notes on Hope is filled with wisdom, humor and just the right touch of sarcasm as she discusses, well, almost everything. Hope, fear, love, meanness, forgiveness, emotionally healthy eating and drinking, you name it. Y’all know, I love me some Anne! She makes me feel very normal in today’s world that doesn’t always feel so normal. Anne writes, “I have never witnessed both more global and national brutality and such goodness in the world’s response…” Agreed. We have to recognize today’s brutality that shows up in a myriad of ways, but let’s choose to concentrate on the goodness of our fellow human beings. The old bumper sticker from a few years ago that said “Practice Random Acts of Kindness” doesn’t seem so trivial these days. Maybe it needs to be the world’s motto. A plea for our better angels to show forth with glory. It comes down to LOVE which gives us hope and “bridge[s] the high-rises of despair…love will give rise to growth, miracles, and resurrection. Love and goodness and the world’s beauty and humanity are the reasons we have hope…we see that our beauty [of creation] is being destroyed, crushed by greed and cruel stupidity. We also see love and tender hearts carry the day.”
This love and tender hearts must be for ourselves as well as others. “As we develop love, appreciation, and forgiveness for others over time, we may accidentally develop these things for ourselves, too. While you might think it’s a trick, having affection for one’s goofy, crabby, annoying, lovely self is home. This has been my meager salvation.” Mine too, Anne. Apparently Anne and I both grew up perfectionistic children feeling responsible for our parents’ happiness and the steadiness of our childhood home. She writes, “I had not asked to be given the role of child statesman, of arranging back-channel negotiations between my parents and siblings whenever called on to do so, like Colin Powell in a red plaid kilt. I didn’t know I could turn down the job. I took it on, and I liked it: identity is a posture that we steal and assemble as a protective coating, but it’s also a ski mask, camouflage and protection from the cold.” So we spend our adult lives digging through these identities to discover who God created us to be. For me, it’s been a long and expensive journey of therapy to self-love and self-acceptance AND love and acceptance of family. I agree with Anne when she writes, “…the family is the most incredible, efficient laboratory, in which to work out the major blocks to these [identities], which of course we got from the family in the first place. If we do the forgiveness work, forgiving our families and ourselves, they become slightly less “them,” and we become slightly more “we.” It’s ultimately about reunion.” So worth the journey!
As much as I loved everything in this book, one of the best topics Anne covers is hate and how easy it is to hate in today’s world. We want to hate people who love the president if we hate him and vice versa. We want to hate people for their prejudices and biases. We want to hate hateful mean people who hurt others. Anne says hate is incapacitating- “when we hate, we can’t operate from our real selves, which is our strength.” These annoying people are “grace-builders” in our lives. Anne says her preacher said “Just don’t let them get you to hate them.” Use prayer as a surrender of our rage and hate- like St Patrick. Anne’s take on the good saint’s prayer is this, “Make me a channel of Thy peace, that where there is hatred, let me sow love, or at least not fertilize the hate with my dainty bullshit.” Amen, Sister, Amen!
We can do this, we can survive and thrive in today’s world of loud mouth bullies, “us versus them” thinking, and fear-based attitudes and policies. We can survive it as individuals and as a nation. We have Anne Lamott to help shine the way through this darkness.
PONDERINGS: My daughter and I are starting a new business which is cutting into my cherished reading time. I’ll go to bi-weekly postings from now on. Hopefully I can keep up with which week I’m on and which week I’m off. Ha!