One of the things that I love about being at Boston University is that they have such wonderful professional development programs for their faculty. Last year, I was accepted into their Women’s Leadership Program, run by the phenomenal Emelia Benjamin. This year, I was fortunate to be accepted into their Narrative Writing Program. I meet with a group of about a dozen faculty every month and we discuss assigned readings, practice writing, and get advice and support from each other. It’s a lovely group and I’m really enjoying it. We usually are given a few writing prompts during the session. Last week, the prompt was to spend five minutes writing about any line from a book chapter that we had been assigned to read (Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott). I was excited for this prompt because I had actually been thinking a LOT about one of the lines from the ready.
This is what I wrote:
I read the line a few days ago, in the car while waiting for my son to get out of school, and I laughed out loud. A joyous happy laugh. The type of laugh that I haven’t experienced in awhile. I’ve been struggling lately, struggling with experiencing self-compassion and finding moments of pure joy. But in this moment, I was absolutely delighted. “I have a tape of a Tibetan nun singing a mantra of compassion over and over for an hour, just 8 words over and over, and every line feels different, feels cared about.” But that wasn’t the line that made me laugh. It was this line – “You never once have the sense that she is glancing down at her watch, thinking, ‘Jesus Christ, it’s only been fifteen minutes.’ ” This line made me so delighted that I laughed out loud when I read it. I immediately took a snapshot of the page and shared it with several people in my life. When I shared it with my boyfriend, he asked me, “What’s so funny about it?” At first, I was surprised at his response. I thought, what? Doesn’t EVERYONE think this is funny? I tried to explain to him why I found it so amusing, but the true explanation escaped me at the time. I ended up saying something along the lines of how it spoke to my own impatience, my own goal-oriented way that I struggle with at times. But then, it was yesterday that I realized why I was so delighted. It wasn’t the idea itself that was delightful, but that another person, this author, Anne Lamott, this stranger to me, wrote this. That she got me. That there was someone out there in this world that I felt connected to, just by reading her words. That is why I laughed with such delight.