Are We There Yet?

February 19-25, 2018

By Jay Edwards


I heard a good talk the other day on the Internet from Anne Lamott, the writer and novelist. She wrote one of my favorite books on the art and discipline of writing called “Bird by Bird,” if you ever are feeling masochistic enough to take up the craft as a profession.


Lamott’s talk was called, “Everything I know for sure,” and there were a few gems she mentioned worth passing along that I’ll get to in a minute.


Lamott will turn 64 in April. She says she doesn’t really believe she could be that age, thinking of herself much younger. And that is the key. That she thinks that way.


Of course, she and I both know, intellectually, we aren’t close to 30 anymore, or even 40 or 50. I know it every morning when I get out of bed. And I know it after 18 holes, when my back and neck tell me.


Lamott recalled her friend Paul, who is in his late 70’s.


“Paul says, ‘I feel like a young man who has something really wrong with him.’”


I get it Paul. How did it happen? We are talking about the Baby Boomers here. I mean, some of us were at Woodstock for goodness sake!


Anyway, I do believe, after reading Lamott and listening to her for a time now, that she is qualified to speak about certain life truths, which this recent talk of hers was about, or as she subtitled it, “Things I’m almost positive about.”


She began with this one, “All truth is a paradox.”


One definition of a paradox is “a statement or proposition that, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory.” The first thing that pops into my mind from that would be what one hears these days from a White House press conference. In fact, the press secretary herself might be called a paradox, and a very good one at that.


Number two. “Almost every single thing will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes.” This is hilarious but don’t restrict it to just man made objects, be sure and include the creators as well.


Number three. “There is almost nothing outside of you that will help in any lasting way, unless you are waiting for an organ. You cannot buy, achieve, or date serenity or peace of mind. It’s a horrible truth and I so resent it, but it is an inside job. People have to find their own way. And if it’s someone else’s problem, you probably won’t have the answer anyway. Our help is often toxic. Help is the sunny side of control. Don’t get your help and your goodness all over everybody else.”


See Facebook for perfect examples of why this is wonderful advice. But don’t expect it to be different anytime soon, if ever. Our human natures have strong tentacles and they don’t much care for change.


Number four. “Everything is screwed up, broken, clingy, or scared, even those people who seem to have it most together. Try not to compare your insides to other people’s outsides, (told you she was good) it will only make you worse than you already are. You cannot save, fix, or get anyone sober. What got me sober 30 years ago was the catastrophe of my behavior and thinking. So I asked some sober friends for help and I turned to a higher power. One acronym for GOD, is the Gift Of Desperation. Or, as a sober friend of of mine put it, ‘By the end, I was deteriorating faster than I could lower my standards.’”


Great stuff. Thanks for the honesty, Anne.


See all of Jay’s past columns on our website at