Feb 272013
 

 

Dear Gail,

 

I saw you in Charlotte this past weekend. I was on stage with the beautiful preacher-man and there was a big, big crowd in front of me – but I saw you there. When I spoke of God’s love and the sun you closed your eyes and nodded your beautiful head and I saw your lips make the word “amen” again and again. I love that word – amen. You helped me, Gail. Because I could see that we were riding a wave together, you and me. You in the crowd and me on the stage- we were riding together. And so when I felt like I should quiet down already, that maybe I’d said enough, I kept riding with you anyway.  I kept getting truthier and truthier and the truthier I got the more heads started nodding and then folks started crying and that was all because of you, Gail. Your nodding head and your amens made me brave. Your eyes made me calm.

I tried to grab your hand after the service, but my escorts swept me off stage fast. They put me upstairs in a room and told me to stay, but when they left I broke out of there. I sneaked down the fire escape and back into the huge room to find you and the others. The others were still there, which made the risk worth it- but you were gone. There was no nodding you and there was no regal, beautiful one with you. I wondered who the regal, beautiful one was. She looked like you.

The night I got home from North Carolina, I searched our Facebook page for your face. I found you there. What are the chances, Gail? I clicked on your name and I read your wall. My sister had been there already. You two had already connected. You’d hugged each other at the event. What are the chances, Gail?

I friended you. You wrote to me. I knew you were a writer after reading your first sentence. I wrote back and said YOU ARE SO ALIVE. Your writing is so ALIVE. You are a WRITER.

You already knew you were a writer, but you thanked me anyway. Then you told me that you’d rearranged your chemo, your healing treatment, to come hear me speak. Because you thought listening to me would be a healing treatment, too. And you told me that you’d brought your daughter along with you. She was the regal, beautiful one at your side. What a lucky woman she is, to call you mother.

You thanked me for writing, for loving, for showing up, for fighting. I thanked you for doing the same things.  We both wished like hell we were thanking each other over tea on my couch or yours. We wished we were thanking each other’s eyes and holding each other’s hands  -  but the next best thing was still pretty damn good. Reading you, Gail, is pretty damn good.

 

I needed to give you something, Gail. I needed to give you everything. Out of gratitude and awe…for your strength and frailty and grace and dignity and for, as our sister Maya says, making me proud to spell my name w-o-m-a-n.

I didn’t know what it could be. What could I give you, Gail? What could I give you, that would say all of those things? All of those things that I mean so deeply and urgently and truly? Those things that I mean more than I mean anything else at all?

And then it came, Gail. It came to me. What I have for you. It came in the mail. What are the chances?

This is the first copy of my book, Gail. I’ve been working on it for thirty six years. All of me’s in there, Gail. And that’s exactly what I wanted to give you. All of me.

 

 

 

It’s the only first  final copy of my first book that I’ll ever have. More will come later, Gail, but there will never be another first one.  The first one is for you.

It’s for you, Gail. Don’t worry, I don’t need it. I already know what it says. It’s good, Gail. I worked really hard on it. Not as hard as you’re working these days, but hard. It’s my story. There are parts of yours in there too, I think.

I wrote my phone number on the inside of the cover, Gail. Please use it when the doctor calls to tell you that it’s all gone. Please use it when the doctor calls to tell you that you beat it. That it’s nothing but a memory. That it’s nothing but the hot coals that made the soles of your feet tougher and quicker and that made the moon shine brighter upon that beautiful nodding, amen-ing head of yours.

 

 

 

 

Amen, Gail.

 

Visit her here.

 

Love, Glennon

 

Feb 262013
 

Why do you tell these things? Why do you share the most intimate details of your heart and soul? Why do artists, writers, bloggers, DO THAT?

It’s gotta be for attention. You’re a narcissist. Neurotic. Exhibitionist. Publicity whore.

(This “publicity whore” is a new dagger being wielded-  a shiny, sharp one. Why do women, ever, ever, ever want to call each other whores? Baffling.)

 

 

Maybe. Maybe we are those things.

Or maybe it’s this:

 

In everyday life, on the news, at play dates and coffee dates and real dates and PTA meetings and even at church – we discuss the details. Details like politics and religion and diets and money and  home decor and jobs and other people’s personalities. I don’t know why I’m wired this way –  I often wish I wasn’t – but discussing these details makes me want to stick forks into my differently sized eyeballs.

I think a lot of folks have this eye-fork problem when discussing details, and I have a theory about why that is. I think it’s because discussing the details  – the surface stuff  that we are allowed to discuss in real life – makes us feel lonely. Different. Not quite understood. Because for each person, the surface stuff is different. We all have different details, different jobs, money situations, religions, politics, family dynamics, pasts, goals, talents, homes, and personalities.

Since these details about us are different, when we discuss only these things we feel, at our core, different from other people.  Lonely.

She has it so much easier, better, bigger. At home, at work, in her own skin. I am alone. I am different.

But from spending hours every day reading letters from women all over the world, I have learned that our essentials are the same. Maybe not our details, but our essentials.

We are not, at our core, different from other people. We’re not. We are all one.

We all feel hope and pain and agony and triumph and loneliness and fear. We all lose love and friends and our minds and our religions from time to time. We all cry and laugh and hate and love fiercely. We are each a dueling mix of good and bad. We are each so, so terrified and so wickedly brave. As Whitman says- We are human, we are big. We contain multitudes.

The details make us people, but the essentials make us human. And when we share the deep stuff, the real stuff, the hidden stuff- we learn that the details are just hurdles we must get past in order to get to the essentials, in order to get to that place of vulnerability, that truthiest place where we learn that at our cores, We Are The Same.

And knowing that makes us less lonely. And feeling less lonely makes us braver. And brave people make a better, more beautiful world.

I write about these deep, hidden, essential things because I want to feel less lonely and I want others to feel less lonely, too. I write because I want to be brave and I want others to be brave, too.

I write because it’s my little, big way of making the world more beautiful.

 

Love,

G

 

 

 

 

Feb 252013
 

 

 

 

So many ask me how I deal with negative criticism and character assassination, and I struggle to explain that while I’m usually thrown into a deep well of self-doubt by it, I’m also mindful that there are gifts to be found in it all.

I got some help defining this duality from Pema Chodron this morning in Things Fall Apart (thank you , Jen!). She describes a sign pinned to her wall that reads: “only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.”

There you go. That’s it. For you Buddhists, (Chodron is a brilliant Buddhist Monk) that should explain the gift  painful input offers.

 

For Christians, it helps me to think of the posture that the Christian faith requires. As an extreme introvert, my natural posture and comfort zone would be roly-poly style – all curled up with my vital organs  (heart, brain, lungs) shielded by my appendages. But Jesus encourages me to spread my arms out, raise my chest, and leave myself wide open for crucifixion. And to straighten my spine at the same time.

 

And for those of us who prefer to keep our explanations out of the spiritual realm . . . here you go.

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                     

 

And Lovers Gonna Love.

Love,

G