Grief, grace and gratitude

I’ve just been reading Anne Lamott. On a trail hike with a friend who has a terminal diagnosis, she noticed groups of tourists. But: “Who knows what tragedies these happy tourists left behind at home? Into every life crap will fall …
Making so much of it work is the grace of it; and not being able to make it work is double grace. Grace squared. Their somehow grounded buoyancy is infectious, so much better than detached martyrdom, which is disgusting.

The article remembers Virginia Woolf’s assertion that “a self that goes on changing is a self that goes on living”

And Lamott considers “how people like her friend Barbara — people on the precipice of death and yet very much alive — find the grace of making-it-work”:

“They are willing to redefine themselves, and life, and okayness. Redefinition is a nightmare — we think we’ve arrived, in our nice Pottery Barn boxes, and that this or that is true. Then something happens that totally sucks, and we are in a new box, and it is like changing into clothes that don’t fit, that we hate … (yet) everything we lose is Buddhist truth — one more thing that you don’t have to grab with your death grip, and protect from theft or decay. It’s gone. We can mourn it, but we don’t have to get down in the grave with it.”

Lamont recounts the New Year’s Day phone call in which her friend Sue told her the news of her prognosis:

“I just listened for a long time; she went from crushed to defiant.
‘I have what everyone wants’, she said. ‘But no one would be willing to pay.’
‘What do you have?’
‘The two most important things. I got forced into loving myself. And I’m not afraid of dying anymore.’

Lastly, Lamott writes:

“This business of having been issued a body is deeply confusing… Bodies are so messy and disappointing. Every time I see the bumper sticker that says “We think we’re humans having spiritual experiences, but we’re really spirits having human experiences,” I (a) think it’s true and (b) want to ram the car.”


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