The fact that things start to appear in your life means you've finally wiped the fog off the mirror and are actually ready to see. You know, how when someone says something poignant to you and you start to hear the phrase or the words in music, in a situation in your favorite show, maybe in a book you're reading.
When I recently took a break from my caregiving duties after my father passed away nearly five months ago, I was damaged, feeling "raked through the coals" as they say, and feeling a lethargy and longing for something I couldn't describe. I didn't know exactly what I needed, I just knew that I needed to throw myself the hugest life raft I could find. So I did. And I found exactly what I didn't know I was looking for--hope.
Sometimes we need to rescue ourselves and find a little quiet corner to awaken our spirit. It's always there. Sometimes, it lays dormant, sometimes for very, very long, that it leaves us wondering if it's still even there at all. But it is. It's just waiting for the moment when we rub those two sticks of proverbial hope together and bring it back to life.
Author Anne Lamott's little book did just that for me when I stumbled upon it, so I wanted to share it with you. See if your local library has a copy, or if you can spare it, treat yourself to your own copy, maybe as an audiobook to pass the time in traffic. You'll want to reread the chapters and keep it next to your nightstand like you do the Bible, if that's your sort of thing. Here are a few of my favorite quotes and passages. But please do find a copy to enjoy for yourself. I promise you, it will stoke that fire within, especially on those days when you need it most.
Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.
"Almost everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy, scared, and yet designed for joy. Even (or especially) people who seem to have it more or less together are more like the rest of us than you would believe. I try not to compare my insides to their outsides, because this makes me much worse than I already am, and if I get to know them, they turn out to have plenty of irritability and shadow of their own. Besides, those few people who aren't a mess are probably good for about twenty minutes of dinner conversation."
Our yokes are heavy. Healthy people need to unburden sometimes unpleasant feelings and information, such as hating everything about life and everyone on earth, and hoping the bad people are killed by snakes; or that they just ate all the frosting off a Safeway carrot cake because they were feeling fragile. It is very normal--and in fact, increasingly so--for anyone in their right mind to feel or do these things and so therapeutic to tell the miserable truth.
"...death is not the enemy; snakes are. And cheese: it is addictive and irresistible. I have had three kinds so far today."
A child said to me, "I has value," 'but the grown-ups mostly keep that thought to themselves, and I keep forgetting that I do. Could you say this about yourself right now, that you have immense and intrinsic value, at your current weight and income level, while waiting to hear if you got the job or didn't, or sold your book or didn't? This idea that I had all the value I'd ever need was concealed from me my whole life. I want a refund.
"The lesson here is that there is no fix. There is, however, forgiveness. To forgive yourselves and others constantly is necessary. Not only is everyone screwed up, but everyone screws up. How can we know all this, yet somehow experience joy? Because that's how we're designed--for awareness and curiosity. We are hardwired with curiosity inside us, because life knew that this would keep us going even in bad sailing."
It's ridiculous how hard life is. Denial and avoidance are unsuccessful strategies, but truth and awareness mend. Writing, creation, and stories are food.