Listening and Power

Anne Lamott, writer

“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.”

This afternoon I was listening to an interview that featured Anne Lamott, I was scanning around the net, ran across a long list of interviews to select from and for some strange reason I chose to listen to Anne Lamott.

At the beginning of the interview, I began to notice little one liners she used that sounded very familiar. When one is a member of AA, you learn these little one liners; “getting out of one’s way” or “taking my own inventory” , then, there is one of my  most favorites; “living life on life’s terms”.  Yes, Anne was dropping those little bits of gold, sprinkling her interview with them as one would spice their food. I wondered, “is that why I chose her, did I recognize her from AA?”  Quite frankly, I have not figured out how I know her, I don’t think that I have read any of her work, but still later in the interview, she did mention her length of sobriety (which is about 20+ years) so I wasn’t wrong about the AA part.

She was speaking to a college group and giving some insider information regarding her personal views of becoming a writer. I liked what I heard, she seems to be pretty balanced in regard to taming the ego, and she is very entertaining to listen to, and even during the interview, she managed to give me lots of ah-ha moments. Her candidness was refreshing, and her honest approach to life (one of the things that AA drives home hard) helped me through some rough areas today.

All of my life I have fallen into the trap of people pleasing. On the one hand I don’t like to hurt people’s feelings, and on the other I have a great need to be accepted, add those two things together, and you have a tremendous fodder for a hard core co-dependent mamby pamby do gooder, who is neither honest to them-self, nor others. People-pleasing and deep insecurity has led me to the bottle and I too ended up in AA.  Fortunately today I have a choice, I don’t have to live that way anymore, I have learned that when I succumbed to the pp level, and denied my own truth, I was as guilty as anyone of being a hypocrite and man did I have problems with folks who portrayed themselves as one thing, when deep inside they were almost the exact opposite.  I used to rant on and on about those type of people, and never realized that I was one myself. It is called not being self actualized. However, just learning that I was that is just the tip of the iceburg, how to change is something much, much deeper. That inside work is demanding, it is painful, constant and even when in some instances one can become deadly honest, there will be times when the “honesty is best policy” almost seems to heavy a price to pay and I recoil.

If there was one wish I could have granted in my life, it would be that I could be more confident in voicing my own views. I don’t know what happens to me, but no matter how hard I try to stay strong and honest, I limp along in life and never fully speak my truth. Some days are better than others, and some circles are better too. Depending upon the crowd I am in, sort of determines how honest I can be. Maybe living the life of a chameleon for so many years has forced me to cling to the facade. I do my most honest me in the rooms of AA and that is one of the reasons that I love AA so much, it allows me to be exactly who I am, broken wings and all. But we also learn how to accept the unacceptable, and learn that by practicing total honesty, we will eventually get better at that also. Striving for perfection is futile, we are told, just trying to do the best we can is the goal. If I fall short, so be it, tomorrow is another day.

Letting go of the powerful strings, and allowing life to flow. I cannot change other people, I cannot make them act the way I think they should act. I also have to accept people as they are, not as I wish them to be, judgment and criticism is not beneficial. So how about someone who tries to control me, or manipulate me?  There are always going to be difficult people and they will never stop coming at me, but the numbers do decrease, for once I finally learn how handle situations that used to baffle me, then those won’t be “baffling” situations anymore.  One thing that someone like me has to learn, is that not everyone is going to like me, no matter how hard I try, and so what if I try to please folks based upon my dis-honest presentation, how pathetic is that? So, best to be honest from the get-go.

As Anne Lamott says; we have this one odd and precious life issued us, do we squander it away trying to be someone we basically dislike or do we let go of the illusion and go for a honest life?  Today I was honest to someone that depends upon me to co-sign their bull-shit. This person is mad at me, see, she depends upon my dishonesty to rubber stamp her dishonesty. Maybe if that person learns that my answers will no longer favor her oddness, then she won’t bother to ask me. See?

Life is too short to waste one second in regret, remorse or rebuttal. I am glad to have listened to Anne Lamott today. It felt very good.


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