I have a list of famous people that I think would be my best friends if they ever met me. J.K. Rowling is, of course, near the top. Her humble beginnings humanize her so much, and I could see us sitting at The Elephant House coffee shop in Edinburgh eating scones and talking about Harry Potter. Jennifer Lawrence also makes the cut. She seems like a goofy, kind of irreverent sister who would sing really loudly with me in the car. A recent addition to this hypothetical best-friends list is Anne Lamott, whom I heard speak on Friday at the Festival of Faith and Writing. She is just the coolest. Her openness and honestly was addicting, and I came home feeling inspired. Here are a few of the gems I collected from her talk:
#1: “Laughter is carbonated holiness.”
I love being silly. My mom tells me that when I was a baby I would always do things in my high chair to get others to laugh. But it’s easy to forget to be silly and laugh when so many things feel so serious. My twenties are full of important life-altering decisions and student loan payments. I get bogged down with the weight of being a responsible adult and forget about seeing the joy and humor in things. There are just too many weighty, difficult, adult-y issues to deal with. Which brings me to number two.
#2: “What I’ve learned is that the key to life is showing up/being active/doing.”
Anne, you designed your talk to be directed entirely at me, didn’t you?
One of the words I would use to describe myself is “lazy.” My sister had me take an Enneagram Personality Test a few weeks ago, and I fell into the “9” category: “The Peacemaker.” This means that I ultimately want to maintain peace and security and am afraid of “rocking the boat.” Because of this, I have a hard time making decisions and motivating myself and therefore I involve myself in repetitive, “easy” tasks. So I guess that explains why I’m marathon-ing reruns of The Office on Netflix while browsing Pinterest instead of hanging out with people.
But Anne talked about how important it is to be awake to experiences. “Are you paying attention?” she asked the audience. I can honestly answer, “No, not most of the time.” I think I like to stick my head in the sand and do what is comfortable (stay at home in my pajamas and eat ice cream with Nutella) so that I don’t have to think too hard about reality and those adult-y issues.
So, New Year’s Resolution: “Show up. Be active. Do.” (We can still do resolutions at this point in the year, right?)
#3: “Our job as writers, storytellers, and just plain old human beings is to tell our version of things.”
Now if I’m showing up to things and getting out of my comfort zone, if I’m actively paying attention to life around me, if I’m “doing” instead of living on autopilot, then I can fulfill a key requirement of being human: sharing my version of things. I think that’s why I like Anne’s writing so much. It’s honest without being preachy. She manages to get deep messages across simply by relating experiences in her own unique voice. And it’s not just the writers who have a monopoly on this. She said it’s our job as humans to share our experiences and make connections with each other, appreciating each other for our own unique take on life.
So thank you, Anne, for inspiring me on Friday to laugh, to show up (I almost didn’t come to the talk. Isn’t that silly?), and to tell my version of things. Let’s get a coffee sometime.
A born-and-and-raised Grand Rapidian, Sarah (’12) is now a seventh grade language arts teacher in the Seattle area. She has been living there since the summer of 2015 with her music teacher husband, Mike. She loves reading, watching Netflix, playing games, watercolor, and walking at the off-leash dog park (even though she does not have a dog).