Saturday, June 17, 2017

     When I wanted to write a book, a feat I never dreamed I could have realized, I read a few books to help me get started. One was Ann Lamott’s, “Bird by bird.” Ann Lamott is a wonderful, truthfully raw and inspiring writer whose sense of humor is refreshing and motivating. This morning, while we wait for the shops to open in historic Santa Fe, I watched her step out of her element onto the Ted Talks stage. She admitted in an interview that this was not her comfort zone, but she enjoyed sharing her 12 Things She Absolutely Knows with the thousands who listened.

     Her humor and encouraging philosophy inspired me to write two books over six years ago. They were not published, as I was too old to wait long enough to be discovered, but the 250 copies I sold of each one helped me check off the writing section of my bucket list, and I learned so much. At the very least, I am humbled when I read a good book, and I am in awe of excellent writers everywhere who keep writing despite the constant rejections from publishers.

     One of the twelve things she lists is the question of how we see ourselves and how we feel. She is a mere 61. She apparently feels this is old enough to philosophize. That’s young to this 74-year-old who feels like she is 25 and thinks of herself as 35. Ann talks about our “inside selves” versus our “outside selves,” and she says “Don’t ever compare your inside self to anyone else’s outside self.” That is just self-defeating and based on untruths. This is a good lesson, and even at my age, I still find myself doing this at times. Fortunately, it is the exception now that I’ve lived long enough, not the rule. Bill Cosby (am I really going to quote his moron?) said something like  “Comparison is the antithesis of joy.” I dont’ think he used such big words, but that was his message. I wonder if he compared all the women he supposedly mauled. The message is true, nonetheless. And to think I used to really listen to him.

     Ann says “Looking at the paperwork, I was born in 1954.” Looking at my paperwork, I was born in 1943. Things were so different then. The family into which I was born shaped me based on there own life experiences which included surviving a world war, a crippling economic depression and The Milton Berle Show. My favorite life-changing message came from a wonderful little book, The Four Agreements, in which the author states in the first chapter, “Everything you ever believed is a lie.” This is a must read for anyone who wants to understand why he or she thinks weird things or wonders why she loses it when she knows she should be calm. 

     I have many conversations with my “inside self.” I assume you do too. Maybe you haven’t thought about these heart-to-hearts, but the cool thing is that no one can hear them but you. You can contradict yourself, lie to yourself, be brutally honest with yourself, praise yourself, scold yourself—you can do all of this “inside.” If you choose to share it, choose your listener carefully, as this is raw material and can easily turn on you. As Brené Brown says, “Dont’ share with anyone who hasn’t deserved your trust.” 

     My favorite quote from Ann Lamott’s unpolished, but sincere and praiseworthy Ted Talk is, “Everything will work if you unplug it for a couple of minutes, including yourself.” Love this author. She’s amazing! Check out her latest book, Hallelujah, Anyway.