Post post-election words from Anne Lamott
I have passed through the initial five stages of grief: denial anger bargaining depression and acceptance. Now I am in fascination—cobra hypnosis, newly apoplectic every day by the latest. I believe I have actually keened within recent memory. At this rate, I may have a flickering tic in my eye by sundown. Also, I am doing the unconscious eating that everyone I know is doing, whole packages of Oreos for us sugar freaks, whole bags of chips for the salty-fats crowd, oat-bags of dip, whole sides of beef: no little dog is safe in the midst of our voracious appetite for numbness. I absolve everyone: It’s okay for now. We need ballast.
Because we’re all doomed. It’s hopeless.
Oh, wait, never mind.
But what do we do, what do we do?
We have to figure this out—oh wait, never mind. Figure out is not a good slogan (altho certain very tall people in your household and classrooms always insisted that this was the golden path to glory.) (I will not name names.)
Where do we start?
Well, that one I can answer. We start here, where our butts are. We get up and feed the dogs—I said feed them, not eat them.
We can say a little prayer even if we are not believers: “Help” is a great prayer. “Help me, help me, I am a completely doomed human,” is even better. When my then six-year-old son got his head stuck in the bars of a chair at the dining table of some friends we were visiting, he went unnoticed for a time, and then a tiny voice piped up and said, “I need help with me.” The friends had this calligraphied and framed for us. I say it at least once a month.
I’ll tell you a great praise prayer for the believers, and then one for the Nons.
I have a friend who is a hopeless alcoholic of the worst sort, like me, who somehow like me has put a few years between those cool refreshing beers we had with breakfast, just to get all the flies going in one direction. She went to some sort of “meeting,” and met up with a woman who had had most of her tongue removed during surgery for an aggressive oral cancer. She shared during the meeting that the cancer had returned and she needed another round of chemo. Everyone looked on in dismay, but she flipped her wrist dismissively. “Oh, I’m not worried,” she said. “God’s got it.”
God’s got it. This is so not me. I’m more of a Rube Goldberg machine of herky jerky attempts at control, domination, and, most importantly, assigning blame. But then the pain and isolation of feeling like the Wizard of Oz gets my attention and eventually, I give up. I surrender. I lay down my weapons, and breathe, maybe not like the Dalai Lama, but less like a sturgeon on a dock.
And for the Nons: a dear friend once got a call from a world-famous screenwriter, who, in the throes of grandiosity, had lost or was losing almost everything precious to him. He recounted a litany of troubles and obsessions, from the distant wife to the scary child to the lack of prospects, and then demanded that my friend gave him one good reason to stay here on this vale of tears.
My friend listened attentively, which is pretty much all we have to offer, and then said, “Mornings are nice.”
That’s a gorgeous prayer.
“i thank You God for most this amazing day:” cummings wrote, “for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes.”
So that’s where we start—here, now, damaged, scared, grateful, surrounded by our beloved, by sad strangers, with lots of poor people to care for, a world to save, a bracing cup of coffee, walks begging to be taken, lonely people to check in with, Oreos and Cheetos to get through, (someone’s got to do it,) a whole new day before us, that we can screw up or not. Sigh. Here we go.
Anne Lamott’s Facebook post, because they’re wise words that I need. Maybe you do too.