Here and there I come across another writer’s words and find they say exactly what I wanted to say. To go any further and use my own words would at best be redundant, or more likely only a pale semblance of my actual thoughts. So here at a major crossroads of my life are three quotes by Anne Lamott that express my feelings clearly.
It’s funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools – friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty – and said ‘do the best you can with these, they will have to do’. And mostly, against all odds, they do.
You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.
In the first quote I am reminded that doing the best with what I have is all there is. The second one explains why past love is so indelibly stamped on my heart. And now a third quote from Anne Lamott is a help fending off my tendency toward perfectionism.
Clutter and mess show us that life is being lived…Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation… Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the artist’s true friend. What people somehow forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here.
Anne Lamott is an American novelist and non-fiction writer
and a progressive political activist, public speaker
and writing teacher based in the Bay Area of Northern California.