Anne Lamott, whose Bird by Bird helped me immeasurably when I was writing my first novel, Speaking of Love (I was stuck, didn’t know what to write or how, but Lamott’s Bird by Bird dispelled my despair, took my hand and led me step by step through the possibilities and the process, restored my confidence and gave me back my sense of humour, thank you, Anne ) … Anne Lamott decided to write down ‘Every single true thing I know’ a few years ago. Here are Four (of Twelve).
The first and truest thing is that all truth is a paradox. Life is both a precious, unfathomably beautiful gift, and it’s impossible here, on the incarnational side of things. It’s been a very bad match for those of us who were born extremely sensitive. It’s so hard and weird that we sometimes wonder if we’re being punked [tricked, on this side of the pond]. It’s filled simultaneously with heartbreaking sweetness and beauty, desperate poverty, floods and babies and acne and Mozart, all swirled together. I don’t think it’s an ideal system.
Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes — including you.
Chocolate with 75% cacao is not actually a food.
Grace. Grace is spiritual WD-40, or water-wings … . The movement of grace is what changes us, heals us and heals our world. To summon grace, say, HELP, and then buckle up.
That last sentence is fixed to my keyboard tray so I see it and attempt to do it, every day. And when I asked Lamott for permission to quote from these truths she replied:
Yes, help yourself—everyone, to anything I’ve written.
Her Sixth Truth is about writing and about Bird by Bird: it’s full of wonderful words for writers (and for life). All Twelve of Lamott’s True Things are here: they’re human and thoughtful and funny and reassuring and wise. And the last one, about death, is very very moving. I highly recommend reading them, often. And this, for writing and for life:
And the thing I’d love to have invented in a parallel world where time is infinite and all things are possible is a Human Library. Imagine this: instead of books on shelves, human beings sit at tables ready to tell their life stories to anyone who comes to listen. As they say on their website:
The Human Library is a place where real people are on loan to readers. A place where difficult questions are expected, appreciated and answered.The Human Library was developed in Denmark and is, as they say, A Worldwide Movement for Social Change: Real People have Real Conversations. To find a Human Library event near you go to their Facebook page, here.