I’ve found myself in a funk of late, and haven’t been sure just how to shake it. Between career disappointments, family stress, serious illnesses in the family, financial stress, and a general dissatisfaction for the current state of the world, I’m just exhausted. When I get overwhelmed by all of these things, it’s difficult to find perspective. Rather than see the positive things happening, I tend to only see the negative. The rational part of my brain acknowledges that I’m far better off than a lot of people. I have a great job, a loving family, a roof over my head, and food on the table. The emotional, and slightly less rational side of my brain, sees the disappointments, the bills, the injustices in the world. The irrational side has been winning lately, and I’ve felt like curling up in a dark room for a few months just to get away from it all.
A few days ago, I was looking for something to read, and I wandered over to the bookcase that holds the memoirs. Yes, my bookcases are somewhat organized by genre. But that’s another story. My hand reached out and grabbed Anne Lamott’sPlan B: Further Thoughts on Faith. Now this book has been sitting on the bookshelf for years, much like the many other books in my house. I haven’t had much time for non-school reading in the last five years because I was getting a Master’s in English. What’s more interesting to me is that the last time I was in this kind of funk, I also grabbed a book by Lamott. Seeing a trend, I decided to sit and think about this. If you’re not familiar with Lamott’s work, I would say go out and buy something now. She is a wonderful writer, whether it’s fiction or stories on faith and life. One of the many things that appeals to me about Lamott’s writing is her honesty. She’s not afraid to say that this world is fucked up and it can be depressing. But she seems to find the silver lining, despite all the crap going on around us. When I read her, I laugh, I cry, I nod my head in agreement. More importantly, I start to come out of my funk and see that there is a way to get through the daily crap and maintain most of my sanity. I’m reminded that there are going to be disappointments, failures, and losses, but it’s ok. Now and then, I need a third party to remind me of these simple truths. In one of the last chapters of Plan B, she writes the following:
“Your problem is how you are going to spend this one odd and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to live it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over people and circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it, and find out the truth about who you are.”
I’ve spent much of the last five or so years trying to figure out just who I was and what I wanted. But I’ve also been caught up in the day-to-day grind that often keeps me from enjoying life. Everytime I start to feel relaxed, some new crisis comes down on my head. As a matter of fact, in the process of writing this, my partner called to tell me that her mom had just been rushed to the hospital. We were told it was a stroke. As I cursed the universe for dumping on us once again, I tried to think about what Anne Lamott would do. In one of her chapters, she talks about how sometimes you just need to ask for help. Help from God, help from neighbors. So I had a little chat with the universe as I drove to pick the kids up from school. I told it to stop messing with us. I asked for help and for just a hint of good fortune and relief. Ten minutes later, my partner called to tell me that we had been given erroneous information. Her mom did not have a stroke and was on her way home. Now, this could be pure coincidence. Or it could be the universe saying “Ok, I heard you. Sorry about that.” But I’m a cynic. So as much as I appreciate the help, and as happy as I am that it wasn’t a stroke, I’m keeping my eyes open. But I’m going to do my best to see the good when the shit is raining down over my head.
So wherever you are Anne Lamott, thank you. You have once again helped me through a funk by sharing your life and thoughts on faith and the world through your wonderful writing.