Paul L. Caron

Sunday, April 21, 2024

WaPo Op-Ed: It’s Not So ‘Terribly Strange To Be 70’

Washington Post Op-Ed:  It’s Not So ‘Terribly Strange to be 70’, by Anne Lamott (Author, Somehow: Thoughts on Love (2024)):

Somehow 2I I turned 70 today, a young age for an older person to be, but it is the oldest I have ever been by a long shot. It has been well over six decades since I learned in arithmetic how to carry the one, and the rest has sped by like microfiche.

One big juicy, messy, hard, joyful, quiet life. That’s what my 70 years have bequeathed me.

In my teens, already drinking and drugging, I didn’t expect to see 21, and at 21, out of control, I didn’t expect to see 30. At 30, I had published three books but, as a sober friend put it, was deteriorating faster than I could lower my standards.

Then at 32, I got clean and sober, the miracle of my life from which all other blessings flow. My son was born three years later. The apple fell close to the tree: My son went off the rails, too. He and his partner had a baby at 19, which had not been in my specific plans for him, but you know the old line: If you want to make God laugh, tell Her your plans.

The baby, soon to get his learner’s permit, turned out to be the gift of a lifetime. My son got clean and sober 13 years ago, and the three of us grew up together. Then after a long search, I met this brilliant, kind writer guy and, three days after I started getting Social Security, I married him. Yesterday, I published my 20th book, called “Somehow.” Today, when I woke up, I was 70. Seventy!

I think that I am only 57, but the paperwork does not back this up. I don’t feel old, because your inside self doesn’t age. When younger people ask me when I graduated from high school and I say 1971, there’s a moment’s pause, as if this is inconceivable and I might as well have said 20 B.C. That’s when I feel my age. But I smile winsomely because, while I would like to have their skin, hearing, vision, memory, balance, stamina and focus, I would not go back even one year. ...

I know that my lifelong belief, that to be beyond reproach offers shelter and protection, is a lie. Shelter is an inside job, protection an illusion. We are as vulnerable as kittens. Love fends off the worst of it.  ...

I know a very little bit about God, or goodness, or good orderly direction. I am a believer, but I don’t trouble myself about ultimate reality, the triune nature of the deity or who shot the Holy Ghost. I say help a lot, and thanks, and are You kidding me??? Have You been drinking again, Friend? ...

I know how to let go now, mostly, although it is not a lovely Hallmark process, and when well-wishers from my spiritual community exhort me to let go and let God, I want to Taser them. But I know that when I finally tell a best friend of my thistly stuckness, the telling is the beginning of release. You have to learn to let go. Otherwise, you get dragged, or you become George Costanza’s father pounding the table and shouting, “Serenity now!”

Other op-eds by Anne Lamott:

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