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« Be Brave | Perfection Does Not Just "Happen" »

Let's Talk About the Weather Or Not...

It's Sunday afternoon.  I've spent a good part of this day making plane, ferry and hotel reservations.  I am in my pajamas.  It's either wear them or my bathing suit.  I mean really, what is the point of getting dressed at all if you're going to be in and out of the pool all day?  Here is today's five day weather forecast.  I don't know why anyone ever bothers with it.  It seldom varies from May until November.  We'll come home from the UK on November eighth.  Maybe we'll be able to open windows then.  I feel hermetically sealed in this house.



 I don't know if you are familiar with author Anne Lamott. I love her writing and that surprises me somewhat.  She's a Christian and weaves religion into her essays and books.  Usually, I don't like that because it often feels dogmatic to me. Lots of times I find it downright offensive. 

I'm a Secular Humanist.  At the basis of Secular Humanism is the belief that "human beings are capable of being ethical and moral without religion or a god. It does not, however, assume that humans are either inherently evil or innately good, nor does it present humans as being superior to nature. Rather, the humanist life stance emphasizes the unique responsibility facing humanity and the ethical consequences of human decisions. Fundamental to the concept of secular humanism is the strongly held viewpoint that ideology—be it religious or political—must be thoroughly examined by each individual and not simply accepted or rejected on faith. Along with this, an essential part of secular humanism is a continually adapting search for truth, primarily through science and philosophy. Many Humanists derive their moral codes from a philosophy of utilitarianism, ethical naturalism or evolutionary ethics, and some advocate a science of morality. "  Source:Wikipedia

Lamott writes often of Grace.  She uses the word God, but really gives me the feeling that God can be any moral compass we decide upon.  Secular Humanists don't say "God" but morally I am sure we all live by what others call The Ten Commandments.  I mean, those ten things are the basis for making sure our world continues to spin.  They are common sense defined.  Does it matter if they came from a burning bush or not? 

“It is unearned love--the love that goes before, that greets us on the way. It's the help you receive when you have no bright ideas left, when you are empty and desperate and have discovered that your best thinking and most charming charm have failed you. Grace is the light or electricity or juice or breeze that takes you from that isolated place and puts you with others who are as startled and embarrassed and eventually grateful as you are to be there.”
Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

She says this, too.

“I smiled back at her. I thought such awful thoughts that I cannot even say them out loud because they would make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish.”
Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

That's some classic Anne Lamott.  Her Facebook page today was wonderful; or, at least I thought so.  I am leaving it here for you.  Take from it what you will.

My pastor said once, "It's not what you look AT; it's what you look with." And the other day, I firmly but
gently busted myself: I so often look at the world through mental glasses of what I realized is victimized superiority.

Yuck. God help me. These are the glasses I was issued at an early age by certain large adults I am not going to name, who lived at the same house as my brothers and ...

They felt, and taught, that our family was better than other families, because we had gorgeous classical and jazz on the hi-fi, and worshipped at church of Julia Child, and the New Yorker Holiness Temple. I knew how to unpack a New Yorker cartoon by the age of six. We knew enough to hike, and support the Sierra Club. My Uncle Rex famously rolled down his car window and shouter "Litterer!" at people in the early sixties who tossed stuff out the windows as they drove. Being a Litterer was right up there with being KKK, or the pre-curser of the modern Tea Party, the John Birch Society.

And oh my God, don't even get me started on the religious wackadoos, which is what I in fact accidentally grew up to be.

We were better than all of them, because of our values, which were obviously the correct values to hold. Otherwise, we would have had other values.

Yet, at the same time, everything was harder for us, because my father was a writer, and there was never quite enough money, and we lived in California, so the East Coast literary elite--the NY Times and New Yorker--did not pay nearly the same attention to west coast writers. He was published in the NY'er. And then, not. And then again. Then not: voila, life on the rat exercise wheel. ) And my dad had fought on Okinawa, but this could not be mentioned, because most of the fathers had been in WWII; because of our excellent values, you did not bring up horrific psychological wounds, like that my mother's father had worked on the docks in Liverpool and died when she was ten, because people of good character just got ON with things, and enjoyed good red wine and Julia Child recipes. (She was our JC. She was referred to as The Other Woman is my uncle and Aunt's marriage.)

So there were tiny, tiny unacknowledged issues and invisibly festering wounds in the family, which caused the OCCASIONAL over-serving of beverages, which lead to whispered clipped David Mamet fights, etc....and terrified children. Who were taught at the same time that this family was superior to the Christians, the Republicans, the litterers, and people who did not read excellent and esoteric books. Or hike. Or eat Major Grey chutney.

But the other morning, enraged about the shutdown, horrified by the madness of the Tea Party, and John Boo-Hoo Boehner's opportunistic caving in, and stunned by the realization that the entire world thinks that America has become mad as a hatter, I saw these words on the chalkboard of my mind: victimized superiority. And I instantly knew it was not a better way to capture the extreme right's condition, the Personhood position, the climate deniers, etc (although, YEAH! Them, too.)

I knew that this was me; adorable aging-hippie peacenik me; that as my pastor said, unhappiness and damage sprang from what I was looking with.

As a dear Catholic priest said 75 years ago, "Sometimes I think that Heaven is just a new pair of glasses."

Wow: i felt like I was being spritzed with a plant mister. It woke me up, spritzed me awake. The brilliant, erudite people in my family did not have the sense to ask themselves whether they wanted to be right--which we were--or happy and loved, which we pretended and seemed to be. The House doesn't have this sense, either.

But maybe WE can, today. So today all of THEM get to go on the talk shows, and be victimized, right, and self-righteous. But we can look at them, smile (just for today) and think Tick-tock, because truth and beauty and the constitution almost always win out in the end. The rest of can put on a new pair of glasses, and have the plainest silliest old day, which is what will make it holy. If you need us, some of us will be at work, and some will be picking up litter, and take bags of great food to the fiod pNtry's at our church, nd soe of us will be out in the garden, eating the most ordinary foods, crunchy brightly colored UN-sauced foods, the kind of stuff kids like, listening to the Beatles, and--okay, I'll admit it--lying on the couch, reading the Sunday Times.
Anne Lamott

Reader Comments (1)

A spontaneous reaction from me is why cant people recognise life for what it is? That catholic priest must have been a heretic but so right about a new pair or glasses being heaven. Me, a coat that doesn't let in the cold breezes is my idea of heaven while out walking in the winter. Lets face it we are part of nature, superior in some ways of dexterity and brain but in others... How many of us can lie out in the evening as relaxed as a domestic pet. Days activity done and now to rest. We slump in a chair, doze, read or gaze vacantly at some form of visual entertainment. Jill

October 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJill

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