Many refer to her as “the people’s author” because she speaks volumes to everyone. Anne Lamott’s humor and down-to-earth tone makes others feel comfortable. Her words are honest. She inspires a spiritual transformation from within and will guide you through the hurdles in life that you are struggling with. Beliefnet talked with Lamott about her new book Stiches.
What was the inspiration behind your new book Stitches?
I started Stitches the day after the shootings at Newtown, although I've been thinking and talking about the search for meaning for awhile. This world is so scarily speeded up and technologically science fictional and armed, that it can be hard to know what is true and enduring and safe. I always used to tell writing students to write what they'd like to come upon, and I've been really wanting to come upon a book on meaning and healing and hope in this strange new world, where everyone has 3 kinds of internet devices, plus guns.
Why the name Stitches?
Every section I wrote in the first months of work on the book came back to the idea of stitches being the beginning of restoration. Stitches connect, hold torn things in place; stitches decorate and create beauty. Stitches bring unity to patterns or colors or textures that don't at first seem to "go" together. Stitches hold quilts, create warmth, and can unite us, against all odds, as we stitch together, and as we learn to receive what other have gifted us with.
Can you explain the meaning behind suffering? Do you believe that suffering is a necessary element in order for us to fully appreciate life?
Suffering, despair, great loss, are all part of the natural order of things in a human life. But the culture has convinced most people to suppress their tears and disorientation, which strips people of authenticity, the opportunity to feel their feelings, their chance to experience divine love in friends' compassionate outpouring of tenderness and care.
So much energy goes into trying to pretend that we are doing okay, that we have gotten over certain losses, so our lives are false fronts. We get to decide as seekers if we choose to take down the false, beautified construction, and discovery our truth, and what is wild and real--and these quests are why we are here.
In your opinion, why is order and discipline essential elements in life?
Discipline has always been the path to freedom for me as an artist. I can't just wait around for inspiration. I never really feel like writing, but in 35 years I have established the habit of being strict and firm with myself. I get my work done, rain or shine.
And all the people who have lives I admire--for their commitment to meaningful work, and the ability to have joy and radical playfulness and a sense of having both a strong center and an expansiveness--well, all these people practice a spiritual path. They tend to have a spiritual community in which they are regular members, a meditation practice, certain rituals they adhere to, scripture to which they regularly turn etc. And I have witnessed my whole life that those practices lead to a sense of freedom.
So I adopted that way of life too.
Do you believe in miracles? Why or why not? Should everyone believe in miracles?
I totally believe in miracles. I see them every week, when people go from stricken and clenched, to free, and full of hope. I have seen so many people who were told they were going to die, who are doing just great. I've seen people who were so traumatized by terminal diagnoses--their own or their beloved's--come to experience absolute trust and surrender and acceptance--which is total healing, even when we do go ahead and pass away. I see people who have been abused beyond human decency, make full comebacks, into wholeness and self-love and purpose. I have seen abusers make amends and find redemption. So YEAH, I believe in miracles.
I don't use the word "should" so don't think either people should or shouldn't believe in miracles. But the awareness and expectation of miracles has filled my heart with amazement and joy.
What is the one question that you constantly get asked?
I get asked, "What are you going to do next?" even when my latest book has not hit the bookstores yet, or when I am on booktour. I get asked how being sober for 27 years affects my spirituality, and I say that a) I got to be alive, and fully restored over the course of those years, and b) its like asking how water impacts my quality of life. Water is life! sobriety for me is life, too. It has given me a path on which to walk, beautiful companionship, and a little light by which to see.