Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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I get really overwhelmed by the world sometimes. I know you are SHOCKED by this revelation.
Craig and I are media-challenged because I can’t seem to make it through a movie or the news without crying or yelling. It’s hard on Craig, but I can’t help it. It’s all so upsetting. So many people hurting each other. Forgetting about each other. Causing so much unnecessary pain. And I get a little nuts, because I feel so powerless to fix any of it.
But whenever I get like this – worked up into a furious, despondent, self-righteous tantrum – I inevitably feel this annoying tugging on the back of my shirt. The same kind of shirt-tugging that my kids employ when they want my attention. The Tugger is God, I’m guessing. And the Tugger whispers . . . “Well, there is one thing you could do to help the world. You could try harder not to be a jerk.”
I HATE this suggestion. I always counter back by offering to send a check somewhere instead. God shrugs.
Anne Lamott says,“God loves us just the way we are, and He loves us too much to let us stay that way.” That sounds right to me.
I’ve been thinking about how I watch the news in shock and awe and marvel at how people can shoot and kill and be so damn horrific and violent to each other. My heart’s outrage suggests that I could never be capable of this viciousness. But the Tugger raises His eyebrows. The Tugger asks if maybe I am quite capable of viciousness. I just have a different weapon and socially acceptable ammunition.
Listen to me. This is my Love Experiment for the next year:
For one year, I am not going to allow a negative word about a fellow human being exit my mouth. I am not going to use my words as weapons for one year.
I am not going to nasty gossip. To anyone other than the Tugger.
And furthermore, I am not going to listen to nasty gossip.
Even if the gossip is given under the guise of “concern.” Because if a concern is big enough to talk about, then it is big enough to be addressed directly to the concern-ee. And if a concern is not big enough to be addressed directly to the concern-ee, then it’s not big enough to talk about.
I want to live in a world where women trust each other. Where people know where they stand with each other. Where women give each other the benefit of the doubt simply because they believe down deep that other people are doing the best they can. Where self control is valued. Where women don’t delight in evil. And so I am going to create that type of world for myself. Because we all create the world in which we live. That’s the secret. If you want the world to be different, then go ahead and make a different world for yourself.
Gossip is tricky. Not gossiping is even trickier. Because here’s the thing. There is something inside me that loves gossip so incredibly much. When someone shares something with me about someone else . . . a juicy little morsel, it makes me feel so IN. It just makes me feel so special and accepted and like if she’s talking to ME about HER than she must like ME more than HER and it just feels cozy and like we are in this little circle of trust.
But as my dear friend Adrianne says, (Earmuffs, Jesus) “That. Is Some Bullshit.”
When someone shares a secret or complaint or judgment of another with me, all it proves it that she’ll do the same thing to me. It offers a false sense of security, this gossiping. No time for false things during this beautiful short life. We’re looking for the Truth.
It’s going to be hard. This new Love Experiment is likely to put a damper on some friendships. It might make certain get-togethers a little less fun and I might be left out of some juicy conversations. I probably won’t be as funny or exciting. I might be a bit of a wet blanket. That’s okay. Because I want to be a woman who can be trusted. More than I want to be funny or envied or admired or IN, I want to be trusted. I want to be a safe place for friends to land. I want to be honorable.
This a scary undertaking. But there have been other times in my life when I’ve decided to get rid of destructive habits that were getting in the way of my best life. When I realized I needed to quit drinking and drugging and smoking . . . I was terrified. It seemed impossible. Because that’s what I did. That’s what most people around me did.
But the Tugger insisted that I try. He kept tugging and tugging and repeating that life could be different, better, if I just kept experimenting with His way instead of mine. And so I ignored impossible and just tried. And as it turns out, letting go of the ugly allowed room for so much beautiful.
As always, I’m betting the outcomes of this experiment will be bigger and better than I can now imagine.
I’m betting I’ll experience life differently. My perspectacles will be clearer, crisper. Because we find what we look for in life and in people. And if I stop looking for things to complain about, I bet I’ll stop seeing things to complain about. And I bet I’ll see more of the beauty in people. That’ll be nice.
And maybe as an added bonus, once and for all I’ll really start believing that I’m okay, Especially if I stop frantically trying to prove it by suggesting that others aren’t. Because that’s what we do, I think. We are all just trying to prove that we’re okay.
I don’t think we need to prove anything, after all. I really do think we’re all okay, even though we’re each okay differently. And so I think we can stop worrying and just enjoy each other. We can treat each other’s hearts with honor and care and with the Great Gentleness that each and every heart deserves.
We can be elegant.
Is not easy
To stop thinking ill
Usually one must enter into a friendship
With a person
Who has accomplished that great feat himself.
Might start to rub off on you
That’s what I’m talking about Monkees. One of your sisters was in need and you stepped up, big time. It’s so wonderful when women use each other as resources instead of measuring sticks, no? Joy.
You just won’t believe it, friends. I’ve been working my Monkee tail off. I’ve got highlighters and cubbies and pencils and FILE FOLDERS. I have been reading each and every one of your comments with my mouth hanging open and my heart singing because YES, YES, YES, it’s true – We Can Do Hard Things! I wanted to take pictures to show you all my new systems but I can’t find my camera. Never fear, though. I just wrote FIND CAMERA AND A PLACE TO KEEP IT on my list of “Things To Do Today.” So likely, those things will actually get done! I continue to be shocked and awed. I will keep you abreast of all progress and setbacks. I assure you there will be both.
It’s true, I know it. Order is beautiful. When things are in order, I don’t have to spend as much time panicking and worrying and feeling guilty, so I can do more of what I really want to do.
Which is to think about love.
I know. It’s so painfully cheesy. It’s even hard to write. Quite embarrassing. If you were sitting in front of me, I’d probably never have the nerve to tell you that thinking about love is what I like to do. But here at my kitchen table in my silent house while the rest of the world sleeps, it seems safer to tell. And it’s true. My favorite thing is to think about how to become better at loving. Not actually loving because that is much, much harder. Actually loving wellis the hardest thing ever. Close to impossible. But thinking and talking and writing about how to love well is wonderful.
The Subject Tonight is Love, Hafiz
The subject tonight is Love
And for tomorrow night as well,
As a matter of fact
I know of no better topic
For us to discuss
Until we all
Look, even the structure of that poem looks like a heart! Joy! Listen, I know that for some of you, talking about poetry and love and all this stuff is a bit painful. But I BOUGHT HIGHLIGHTERS, LOVIES. So as a reward, let’s just do it my way today.
I like to think about life as one Love Experiment after another. I get my ideas about how to become a good love-er from the Gospels. I just read what Jesus said about how to live and then I think about what I read throughout the days and weeks and years and I consider what life might be like if I actually lived how Jesus said we should. And sometimes I try out his suggestions. Mostly because I am very selfish and I want the best life I can possibly have during the few years I have on this beautiful Earth. And a while back I just sort of started believing that His way – forgiveness, honesty, compassion, humility, abundance, generosity, simplicity- is probably the best way. The way to find the most peace and joy and love. And those three things are the things I want the most.
I don’t try what Jesus said to try because I want to be “good” or “obedient,” I try what Jesus suggested because I have a hunch that it’s the best way to align myself with the way the Universe actually works. Because His way is like catching the current instead of fighting against it. Because I think the world may have it ALL wrong about what will bring us peace. And I think, based upon results from my past Love Experiments, that He’s got it right.
Every once in a while I start feel God bugging me about a new Love Experiment He wants me to try. Monks, He’s been bugging the hell out of me for the past two weeks. Like I do with Tish, I’ve been trying to ignore Him in hopes that He’ll go away. But God and Tish are persistent.
Friday I will announce my New Love Experiment. I will spend today trying to identify loopholes and ways to quit if the Experiment gets too hard.
Love you to little itty bitty pieces. Really and truly. You make my life better and bigger and saner. You people are one of my best Love Experiments ever.