We witness and try to alleviate others’ suffering, but sometimes it just outdoes itself and we are left gasping, groaning. And running through it all there is the jangle, both the machines outside and the chattering treeful of monkeys inside us.
We believe that we are all in this together; this was the message of childhood, that being together meant connection, like an electrical circuit — think school recess on the blacktop, summer camp, and all those family holiday gatherings. Ram Dass said that if you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family. With our nearest and dearest gathered together, we sometimes intuit that they are neither nearest nor dearest.
The nature of our basic family dysfunction is that we want to present to the world as a kindly, engaged, smart clan that’s doing just fine. (In recovery, we call fine “Fucked-up, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional.”) But underneath, we have resentment, fear for our children, and an addictive desperation to check our texts. There may also be an irregular mole on your thigh that pulses with death, and unexplained bruising.
There’s just no way around this. Even when life sorts itself out and starts to work and we revel in what is working, the cosmic banana peel awaits. Without this reality, there would be no great art or comedy.
So we savor what works when things are sort of harmonious.Anne Lamott, from “Almost Everything – Notes on Hope” P. 60
Jung wrote that when we look outside ourselves, we dream. When we look inside, we wake up. Why would you walk out of a lovely dream, or Plato’s cave, into real life?
One answer is that life lasts so briefly, like free theatre in the park — glorious and tedious; full of wonder and often hard to understand, but right before our very eyes, and capable of rousing us, awakening us to life, to the brightest green and very real grass, the mess, the sky, the limbo. This is the great unexpected promise, that we can choose now, no matter our current condition. But we can’t choose it for anyone else.Anne Lamott, from “Almost Everything – Notes on Hope” P. 46
Most emotional wounds are caused by a child’s belief or feedback that he is deficient, defective, or annoying — probably all three.Anne Lamott, from “Almost Everything – Notes on Hope” P. 36