I've never been to a book signing before. Anne Lamott's for Imperfect Birds was my first. Two hundred plus people wanted to hear her. Half the room was standing room only. Packed. Her hand would be tired by the time she finally could leave.
These are a few things I noticed and heard. She was utterly exhausted. I hope she was on the end of her schedule; going home. She was real and spoke as if we weren't strangers. She knows how to connect. Two hearing impaired men were able to switch seats, because she wanted them to be able to sit in front. The babies in the audience were acknowledged. Celebrated.
There were worried parents in the crowd wanting to know how to keep their children from bad choices. Depending on her, hoping she had a magic formula. It was clear - she didn't have one. "Make sure you all eat healthy, real food around a dinner table together every night." "Have such a vibrant life that they will want one." "Stop being technologically frenetic and see them." Ending with, "Even if you do this, all the right things, they may still make bad choices." She didn't pretend or want to have answers.
One young mother of a TWO year old asked if getting her son into Aikido early might channel his energy and protect him. Anne was stunned speechless for a moment. "Enjoy him - he's two!"
She talked about the emotional acre we all own. Some choose to fill it with junk cars. Some have art studios. Some want playgrounds, others build libraries or music rooms or graveyards. We get one acre/one life to live; how we choose is ours. Again, a paraphrase.
My favorite thing was how she talked about filling our days with things that hydrate and moisturize us, instead of the cell phone, laptops and TV. She wondered aloud what our kids see in our lives to emulate? They seem sickened by the hurry scurry materialism and busyness we embrace.
Her heart was breaking for the children, especially young girls, who in spite of feminism and the supposed sexual freedom, are enslaved. Slaves to being the 'chosen' one. Picked. Picked by a guy to perform what gives him sexual relief and gives her Hep C, or worse. It isn't even about mutual pleasure. These girls are simply being used. Willingly abused. And have the consequences for life.
There was much grief in her eyes from knowing too many kids who have died from addiction. There is an epidemic. Marijuana, alcohol and drug abuse bending young minds to self destruct - it bothered her greatly. I loved how she wasn't sitting in judgement or pointing her finger - she was there with them, watching and wanting to help. Her concern is how much stronger and deadly the available drugs are, along with the young age of those experimenting.
She laughed at how she has critics poking at her from all sides. It was a hurt laugh. She said her replies were, "Really" and "Huh" more and more often now. People everywhere want to be right, then persuade her they are right and she's wrong. "Ignore everybody and tend to your acre." My paraphrase of her wisdom.
Her first book was rejected. The rejection note encouraged her to put it away and move on to something else. She kept on writing anyways. Disheartened perhaps, but constant in moving forward. I love her book about writing; Bird by Bird.
I wonder if the fame, hard work and grueling schedule is worth it? She seemed like she'd be a good neighbor to invite over for tea and swing on a porch swing together. Being. I found myself wanting to nourish and nurture a world weary sister, while playing with her dreadlocks. :)