Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Some Assembly Required

I enjoy Anne Lamott's non-fiction. Read this book in a few hours.

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Sam held Isaiah so differently from how he did even a month ago, because his hands have become the hands of a father.

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Life is mostly okay right now, sometimes lovely and peaceful; and when it's not, it's hard and weird for my nineteen-year-old son to have a baby, and the scary parts feel like they could break you. But then those parts pass, against all odds, and things are mostly okay again, temporarily. Until they get hard and weird again and break your heart. It's not a great system. If I were God's West Coast rep, I'd come up with something easier, whose outcome you could bank on.

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Still, I pretend to be beatific in my neutrality. I let them flail it out, because that is the sort of caring soul I am.

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But if I try to shift my arm even an inch, he'd blink wide-awake--there's something so horror-movie about the way babies' eyes pop open, to catch you, like you're trying to escape. You feel like Daffy Duck when he finally gets away from the huge bad guy, and nails the door shut, but turns around to find the guy behind him in the same room.

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I am experiencing sickening fear, the need to control, and the ubiquitous litany of good ideas. I thank God again and again that my mind does not have a public address system or an open mike every evening.

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"You've got to learn to let go and let your children fall, and fail. If you try to protect them from hurt, and always rush to their side with Band-Aids, they won't learn about life, and what is true, what works, what helps, and what are real consequences of certain kinds of behavior. When they do get hurt, which they will, they won't know how to take care of their grown selves. They won't even know where the aspirin is kept."

She apparently thinks the good part is that God has such huge, great love for them, whereas I think it is unaddressably bad news that they will get so badly hurt in life.

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"I had no idea how damaged I was until I had a kid--how totally powerless." - Sam Lamott

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I faked equanimity, which is my strong suit, and pointed out the few autumn wildflowers: buttercups and white milkmaids. But betrayal and suspicion streaked across my mind like vapor trails.

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I've always thought I could use my brain and my heart to jockey everyone around to the good. But life is not jockeyable. When you try, you make people infinitely crazier than they already were, including or especially yourself.

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"We as parents have the illusion that we make our kids stronger, but they make us stronger... the illusion of control in your life is smashed. Sometimes when you're a parent you're just hanging on by a pinkie finger, and you say to God, 'Trusting you, Dude--I trust you have a plan for us.'" - Sam Lamott

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I saw a dozen snowy egrets in what must have been a very delicious meadow by the side of the road, and I had enough sense to pull over and sit and watch them eat for a while.

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That's all I know how to do--show up and ask God for help. Love and grace are bigger than the nightmare, supposedly. Without trusting this, we're doomed and ridiculous.

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"This is a point in my life when I need God to have a plan, because I don't have a plan. I don't have any idea of where this is all going. I keep finding this trust and surrender to take the next right step, because I don't have a choice. I can be miserable and controlling, or I can trust and surrender." - Sam Lamott

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So I called Sam from the car, feeling distraught, duped, ripped off. I'd bought another lemon, which must mean that I'm a lemon.
"Now, Mom," he said sternly, "what is the first thing we do?" I didn't have a clue, unless it was to assign blame. "We seek wise counsel. You call Rachel after we hang up." Rachel is the IT person who always fixes our computers.

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Besides, I knew beyond a shadow of doubt that if something was not my problem, I probably did not have the solution.
There are no words for how much I hate, resent, and resist this.

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I said to God, "I think I'm done. I want to come back." But I couldn't think of how to do that, so I called Tom.

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The people sane in Fijian, and their harmonies reminded me of Soweto. This kind of beauty softens you and expands you, which is good, but of course it makes you vulnerable to all sorts of horrible things, like, oh, feelings. And being in your body. The harmonies are soul tenderizers. They get right in there into the fibers of your being, into the usually armored muscles and chambers, and open you up with awe."

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It was great to be right. Really, it's the most important thing--to be right, and to know whom to blame.

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"You are in withdrawal. You're in victim mode. And that has nothing to do with Amy. That's lifelong. You need radical self-care and acceptance."
"I feel exposed and needy and repulsive."
"Fabulous! Now we're starting to get somewhere. We can address this, and why your good ideas cannot help. Or you can stay in blame-and-rescue."
This was a rather stunning and rude view of my suffering.

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The job of a good parent is to be dispensable. No one remembered to tell my parents that, but I know it is true.
It's not morally right to make yourself indispensable.

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I got in bed late with the dogs and cat, and lay in the dark praying and thinking. It is a violation of trust to use your kids as caulking for the cracks in you. So I said to God, Fine, have it your way. What ev.
It's a new prayer, to add to the other two, Help me, and Thank you: What ev. I should get this tattooed on my shoulder, "Help me, thank you, what ev, and lower the bar."

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Temporarily unable to remember what city I was in, I said, "I just want to go back to---wherever it is that I am." Then I realized that this was possibly the most brilliant thing I have ever said. All I have to do for a shot at salvation is go back to where I am, and that means wherever my feet are, not my poor old pinball head.

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Tom said that either you learn to live with paradox and ambiguities, or you'll be six years old for the rest of your life.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great book! I read an article about her and her son and grandson, but that article alone wouldn't have led me to want to read her book.

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