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Anne Lamott

  • Living on Earth has always been a dangerous way to spend your time.

    • Anne Lamott,
    • Rosie
    • ()
  • Sometimes it feels like God has reached down and touched me, blessed me a thousand times over, and sometimes it all feels like a mean joke, like God's advisers are Muammar Qaddafi and Phyllis Schlafly.

  • I just can't get over how much babies cry. I really had no idea what I was getting into. To tell you the truth, I thought it would be more like getting a cat.

  • ... once an old woman at my church said the secret is that God loves us exactly the way we are and that he loves us too much to let us stay like this, and I'm just trying to trust that.

  • What an incredible drug fear is.

  • ... I could become like that dyslexic agnostic in the old joke — the one who lies in bed and tries to figure out if his dog exists.

  • He said that when he sees little kids sitting in the backseat of cars, in those car seats that have steering wheels, with grim expressions of concentration on their faces, clearly convinced that their efforts are causing the car to do whatever it is doing, he thinks of himself and his relationship with God: God who drives along silently, gently amused, in the real driver's seat.

  • Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Don't worry about appearing sentimental. Worry about being unavailable; worry about being absent or fraduluent. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you're a writer, you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act — truth is always subversive.

  • Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up.

  • You get your intuition back when you make space for it, when you stop the chattering of the rational mind.

  • To be great, art has to point somewhere.

  • I don't think anything is the opposite of love.

  • ... you can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.

  • ... if you want to make God laugh, tell her your plans.

  • Lighthouses don't go running all over an island looking for boats to save, they just stand there shining.

  • I devoured books like a person taking vitamins, afraid that otherwise I would remain this gelatinous narcissist, with no possibility of ever becoming thoughtful, of ever being taken seriously.

  • Seeing yourself in print is such an amazing concept: you can get so much attention without having to actually show up somewhere. ... There are many obvious advantages to this. You don't have to dress up, for instance, and you can't hear them boo you right away.

  • ... publication is not all that it is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do — the actual act of writing — turns out to be the best part. It's like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.

  • My writer friends, and they are legion, do not go around beaming with quiet feelings of contentment. Most of them go around with haunted, abused, surprised looks on their faces, like lab dogs on whom very personal deodorant sprays have been tested.

  • ... good writing is about telling the truth. We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason they write so very little. But we do.

  • I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much. We do not think that she has a rich inner life or that God likes her or can even stand her.

  • I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won't have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren't even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they're doing it.

  • Rationality squeezes out much that is rich and juicy and fascinating.

  • ... a priest friend of mine has cautioned me away from the standard God of our childhoods, who loves and guides you and then, if you are bad, roasts you: God as high school principal in a gray suit who never remembered your name but is always leafing unhappily through your files.

  • A writer paradoxically seeks the truth and tells lies every step of the way.

  • ... perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.

  • Rituals are a good signal to your unconscious that it is time to kick in.

  • ... if you want to know how God feels about money, look at whom she gives it to.

  • Having a baby is like suddenly getting the world's worst roommate, like having Janis Joplin with a bad hangover and PMS come to stay with you.

  • Becoming a writer is about becoming conscious.

  • Tell the truth as you understand it. If you're a writer, you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act — truth is always subversive.

  • Looking back on the God my friend believed in, he seems a little erratic, not entirely unlike her father — God as borderline personality.

  • My idea of everything going smoothly on an airplane is (a) that I not die in a slow-motion fiery crash or get stabbed to death by terrorists and (b) that none of the other passengers try to talk to me. All conversation should end at the moment the wheels leave the ground.

  • ... only grieving can heal grief; the passage of time will lessen the acuteness, but time alone, without the direct experience of grief, will not heal it.

  • Here are the two best prayers I know: 'Help me, help me, help me,' and 'Thank you, thank you, thank you.' A woman I know says, for her morning prayer, 'Whatever,' and then for the evening, 'Oh, well,' but has conceded that these prayers are more palatable for people without children.

  • ... 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'll have to do. And, mostly, against all odds, they're enough.

  • Again and again I tell God I need help, and God says, 'Well, isn't that fabulous? Because I need help too. So you go get that old woman over there some water, and I'll figure out what we're going to do about your stuff.'

  • ... she does not have an ounce of fat on her body. I completely hate that in a person. I consider it an act of aggression against the rest of us mothers who forgot to start working out after we had our kids.

  • I thought such awful thoughts that I cannot even say them out loud because they would make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish.

  • ... not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.

  • Who was it who said that forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had a different past?

  • There are pictures of the people in my family where we look like the most awkward and desperate folk you ever saw, poster children for the human condition.

  • Age has given me what I was looking for my entire life — it gave me me. It provided the time and experience and failures and triumphs and friends who helped me step into the shape that had been waiting for me all my life. ... I have become the woman I hardly dared imagine I could be.

    • Anne Lamott,
    • O: The Oprah Magazine ()
  • ... when my friend Pammy was dying at the age of 37 we went shopping at Macy's. She was in a wheelchair, with a wig and three weeks to live. I tried on a short dress and came out to model it for Pammy. I asked if she thought it made me look big in the thighs, and she said, so kindly, 'Annie? You just don't have that kind of time.' I live by this story.

    • Anne Lamott,
    • O: The Oprah Magazine ()
  • I live by the truth that 'No' is a complete sentence.

    • Anne Lamott,
    • O: The Oprah Magazine ()
  • Expectations are resentments waiting to happen.

  • Plot springs from character ... I've always sort of believed that these people inside of me — these characters — know who they are and what they're about and what happens, and they need me to help get it down on paper because they don't type.

    • Anne Lamott,
    • in Alexander Gordon Smith, Writing Bestselling Children's Books ()
  • Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers.

    • Anne Lamott,
    • book title ()
  • I wish there were shortcuts to wisdom and self-knowledge: cuter abysses or three-day spa wilderness experiences. Sadly, it doesn't work that way. I so resent this.

  • Butterflies and birds are like one perfect teaspoon of creation.

  • A good marriage is where both people feel like they're getting the better end of the deal.

  • Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.

    • Anne Lamott,
    • Facebook post ()
  • Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy, and scared, even the people who seem to have it more or less together. They are much more like you than you would believe. So try not to compare your insides to their outsides.

    • Anne Lamott,
    • Facebook post ()
  • Fundamentalism, in all its forms, is 90% of the reason the world is so terrifying. 3% is the existence of snakes.

    • Anne Lamott,
    • Facebook post ()
  • Having a child ends any feelings of complacency one might ever have.

  • I do not at all understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.

Anne Lamott, U.S. writer