I have been reading Anne Lamott this week.* I love her writing: it is so smart, and so funny, and so self-deprecating. I know I’m up against a lot of Twilight fans here, but I stand firm in my belief that our own lives and our own stories are so much more interesting, valuable, and romantic than any fiction.
For those who are unfamiliar with her, Lamott is a liberal-yet-religious, dreadlocked hippie woman, a recovered addict/alcoholic, and a single mom. After having some abortions in her 20s, she got pregnant at 34, and, finally sober, decided to go forward with that pregnancy. She actually has a whole book about her son, Sam’s, first year (and, I think, her pregnancy), which I read while in college and have since forgotten almost entirely.
Currently, I am reading Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith, a collection of personal essays wherein Lamott describes her day-to-day experiences with religion and connections with spirituality on all levels. It is not some scary Bible-thumping propoganda book – far from it. Reading this book, as when I read its successor, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith a few years ago (yes, I did it backwards), I feel like I am reading about “religious” experiences I could have had, explained in words I could have written. It’s nothing short of refreshing.
Anyway, my point is not to give a glowing review of Lamott or her books, but to share with you a passage from one of the essays in Grace (Eventually), entitled “Chirren,” in which she talks about her decision to carry, give birth to, and raise her son – a teenager at the time of this reflection, and, in beautiful, general terms, describes how she has experienced the consequences and rewards of that decision:
Let me say that not one part of me thinks you need to have children to be complete, to know parts of yourself that cannot be known any other way. People with children like to think this, although if you are not a parent, they hide it – their belief that having a child legitimizes them somehow, validates their psychic parking tickets. They tell pregnant women and couples and one another that those who have chosen not to breed can never know what real love is, what selflessness really means. They like to say that having a child taught them about authenticity.
This is a toal crock. Many of the most shut-down, narcissistic, selfish people on earth have children. Many of the most evolved – the richest in spirit, the most giving – choose not to. The exact same chances for awakening, for personal restoration and connection, exist for breeders and nonbreeders alike.
Isn’t that so reassuring?
We nonbreeders/can’tbreeders/won’tbreeders need some fucking validation, because we too understand how the world works, and what a miracle a life is: after all, we each have one.
And yeah, okay. I know that one day I’m going to trade in my nonbreeder status for breeder status, but it’s nice to know that, in the meantime, I’m still worth something – I’m still capable of love and beauty and human connection and all that other good stuff. (I always suspected I was, anyway.)
Now for something completely different: Marie’s Lenten Poetry Challenge. Here’s what I’ve come up with: each day, for the next 40 days,** I’m going to post a poem here. Ideally, they will be new poems, but in a pinch, I’m going to the archives and posting from those old college poems that were so embarrassing to me last night. The poems will appear at the end of each post, even after the footnotes to the post itself, so if you aren’t into poetry, you can stop reading before you get there.
But I need more spiritual beauty in my life, and something is telling me that the combination of wearing a cross and indulging my forgotten poet is the best way for me to find it.***
*Yes, this week, because that’s how quickly I will go through books if they’re in English. It’s an expensive habit, but libraries give me the creeps.
**But there are less than 40 days left in Bakery Closed, you say? I’ll figure something out. Also, I think the 40 days don’t include Sundays – that there are actually 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter, and on Sundays we get to give ourselves a break – but I’ll have to check my theology on that.
***I’m also giving up soda, in solidarity with Doug. Or at least, I’m giving up drinking soda in front of Doug.
Today, the Beginning
Awakening in silence, I am aware
that my bed is too big for me.
I’m not good at being alone in it,
not used to being alone at all anymore.
The sound of this loneliness,
is as heavy as blankets.
Then, the soft jingling of your spoon in your Frosted Flakes –
you haven’t left yet, and so the sun rises.