Shortly before she turned 61, Anne Lamott penned down a list of things she knew for sure, and gave a TED talk about it. Read on to know her wise take on family, God, writing, etc.
1. “All truth is a paradox”
Anne starts off by stating that life is both beautiful and ugly. She says, “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”
Just as machines need a break every now and then, so do you. Even though we are all outrageously busy, we have to make time to rest.
3. “You can’t buy, achieve or date serenity and peace of mind”
You have to figure out how to get rid of your problems by yourself – and this goes for the people in your life as well. Like she says, “it’s an inside job.”
4. “Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy and scared, even the people who seem to have it most together”
Thanks to carefully curated social media profiles, it’s natural to think everyone is doing better than you. She advises, “Try not to compare your insides to other people’s outsides.”
5.“Chocolate with 75% cacao is not actually a food”
Our generation tends to eat unhealthy, and chocolate has become a staple food for many. Anne’s hilarious reminder is hard to forget: “Its best use is as bait in snake traps or to balance the legs on wobbly chairs.”
6. “Every writer you know writes really terrible first drafts, but they keep their butt in the chair”
Persistence is key to getting a book out of you. No matter how scary it gets, do it. Otherwise, “You’re going to feel like hell if you wake up someday and you never wrote the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves of your heart: your stories, memories, visions and songs.”
7. Publication and temporary creative successes are something you have to recover from”
Be humble when you see success. “The most degraded and evil people I’ve ever known are male writers who’ve had huge bestsellers.”
However, creative success is also a miracle.
“Just try to bust yourself gently of the fantasy that publication will heal you. It can’t. It won’t.” But creative, community and volunteer work can.
8. “Families are hard, hard, hard, no matter how cherished and astonishing they may also be”
Loved ones will hurt you, but you have to learn to forgive them. She elaborates, “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.”
Anne again stresses on making healthy food choices by simply stating “I think you know what I mean.”
10. “Grace is what changes us, heals us, and heals our world”
Grace comes in unexpected forms, not necessarily one you’d expect. Anne finds it in laughter. “It helps us breathe again and again, and gives us back to ourselves, and this gives us faith in life and each other.” Ask for grace and you will receive it.
11. “God just means goodness.”
Anne thinks that there is no need to be frightened by God. She also shares an insightful analogy: “My pastor says 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.”
12. “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.” But death doesn’t mean they are gone forever – “the person will live again fully in your heart if you don’t seal it off.”
She adds that with age you will learn that “Almost every single death is easy and gentle with the very best people surrounding you for as long as you need. You won’t be alone.”
Which truth was the most eye-opening for you? Do share your views in the comments below.