Anne Lamott is an author whom both Rabbi Saroken and I love very much. Her words are wise and grounded and real. So, when I read her New Year’s post tonight, of course I wanted to share it with you…because she’s pretty much the G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time). Before I share it below, I also wanted to share a few other ideas.
First, the Bengsons (remember their awesome Keep Goin’ On song from the early days of the pandemic?), had a great little new year’s ditty they shared- you can listen to it via Facebook HERE.
Second, this quote, which I found a great way to re-set and get out of the “new year’s resolution” mindset:
There will always be an infinity of things to do.
We can never get our life or our business or our kitchen running exactly the way we want it to run. No matter how we envision it, it can’t be that way.
Life is not predetermined to the point that we can get to some stage and then see how it all works.
What happens is that we have a better and better understanding of things, we have more and more clarity and ability to deal with things as they arise. But they keep arising, endlessly.
The empty sky is always creating new clouds.
~Edward Espe Brown, Zen Chef, From “How to Cook Your Life”
I’m entering 2022 without New Years Resolutions, or re-sets, or frankly high hopes. Let’s just get our lives together!
Here’s my New Year’s Haiku:
resolutions are the worst
let’s just hang out more
And, without further ado, I give you Anne Lamott (read on below).
I usually post the same old piece every year at this time, on how everywhere you look, there is the fierce belief that you should diet, and/or join a gym, because you are disgusting or at least disappointing as is. And you can read that piece here: https://tulsaworld.com/…/article_37df176f-8cf5-5238…
But this year I have our collective condition on my heart, which is existential exhaustion, disbelief and disorientation. I keep thinking bitterly that I am just *done*, like an overcooked rump roast; just *done.* I have been an excellent sport for nearly two years—think Dinah Shore with dreadlocks. Grace, which always bats last, saw me through pretty much unscathed relative to most people in the world, although a few scathes have come up recently. But the good sportsmanship was based on this all coming to an end at some point, and right now, I’m not convinced that it will. It’s like being in a whiteout, where you can’t easily tell which is up and which is down or sideways.
My friend Tom W said, ‘We remember what Susan B. Anthony’s lovely, sober psychologist granddaughter said: ‘We remember to remember.’” And that’s the answer.
We remember that we are alive.
We remember the old tried and true things that always bless us—gather if we can, pay gentle attention to others, get outside even in the cold and wet, send money to the poor (and to NPR).
We remember to give thanks that, after so much has been taken from us, so many blessings remain: the frost on the irish green grass this morning, a long hot shower because it has been pouring rain and the reservoirs are full again, and oh God, am I grateful for indoor plumbing. (Some days when I am in my right mind, it is almost all I need.) We say thanks over and over for everything that still works, all that we still love, views that still blow us away. Gratitude is the fountain of youth. It’s soul food—chicken and waffles and peach cobbler. It’s magnetized.
We remember that spring will be here soon, proving every year as it does that life is stronger than death, than all the crap and chaos. Yes, the leaves are brown and dead, and after a few more storms they will lie at the feet of the bare trees, and the trees already look like they have had strokes, but we remember to remember that a green shoot will pop out one of these days, from a crack.
We remember to sing and dance. Alone is just fine. Wheelchairs fabulous. Music is about as physical as it gets: your essential rhythm is your heartbeat; your essential sound, your breath. We’re walking temples of noise, and when you add tender hearts to this mix, it somehow lets us meet in places we couldn’t get to any other way. Meet yourself there. That’s why you’re here.
We remember lines of poetry that people have foisted on us over the years: Tom reminded me of Gerard Manley Hopkins writing about “the dearest freshness deep down things”—life and health in the earth, where we can’t see them, fully alive, roots bringing life to each other and to us. We remember lines of poetry even as we have forgotten, who wrote or gave us the poem—or even the exact wording, but either Mary Oliver or James Wright wrote about the dark dark dark sea on which if we are paying attention, we suddenly see the reflection of a star.
Today I will remember what my priest friend Terry says, that the point is not to try harder but to resist less; and I will remember that grace finds us exactly where we are but does not leave us where it found us; and I will remember that when we cast our bread upon the water, maybe its return is not the blessing, but the casting, the faithful process and participation. I remember how so many of you have been here and with me through it all, and that has made all the difference. So thank you. Thank you.