Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Quotes Listing

Anne Lamott

They taught me to pay attention, but not so much attention to my tiny princess mind.

Anne Lamott

those years I fell for the great palace lie that grief should be gotten over as quickly and as privately as possible. But what I?ve discovered since is that the lifelong fear of grief keeps us in a barren, isolated place and that 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

Anne Lamott

We kept on cooking and walking the dog, taking the kids to the park, cleaning the kitchen, and letting Sara and Adam hate what was going on when they needed to. Sometimes we let them resist finding any meaning or solace in anything that had to do with their daughter's diagnosis, and this was one of the hardest things to do -- to stop trying to make things come out better than they were. We let them spew when they needed to; we offered the gift of no comfort when there being no comfort was where they had landed. Then we shopped for groceries.

Anne Lamott

we thought were castles turn out to be prisons, and we desperately want out, but even though we built them, we can?t find the door. Yet maybe if you ask God for help in knowing which direction to face, you?ll have a moment of intuition. Maybe you?ll see at least one next right step you can take.

Anne Lamott

We're all afraid of the same stuff. Mostly we're afraid that we're secretly not okay, that we're disgusting, or frauds, or about to be diagnosed with cancer. ... We want to teach you how to quiet the yammer ... how you can create comfort, inside and outside, how you can get warm, how you can feed yourself. And even learn to get through silence. ... There is a wilderness inside you, and a banquet. Both.

Anne Lamott

Whatever you come up with needs to suggest a voice that you are not trying to control. If you?re lost in the forest, let the horse find the way home. You have to stop directing, because you will only get in the way.

Anne Lamott

When the ancient Egyptians finished building the pyramids, they had built the pyramids.

Anne Lamott

When we manage a flash of mercy for someone we don?t like, especially a truly awful person, including ourselves, we experience a great spiritual moment, a new point of view that can make us gasp. It gives us the chance to rediscover something both old and original, the sweet child in us who, all evidence to the contrary, was not killed off, but just put in the drawer. I realize now how desperately, how grievously, I have needed the necessary mercy to experience self-respect. It is what a lot of us were so frantic for all along, and we never knew it. We?ve tried almost suicidally for our whole lives to shake it from the boughs of the material world?s trees. But it comes from within, from love, from the flow of the universe; from inside the cluttered drawer.

Anne Lamott

When you're dreaming, you're not the one calling the shots. So it's a reprieve.

Anne Lamott

Who knows, maybe those two rogue leaders, Gandhi and Jesus, were right?a loving response changes the people who would beat the shit out of you, including yourself, of course. Their way, of the heart, makes everything bigger. Decency and goodness are subversively folded into the craziness, like caramel ribbons into ice cream. Otherwise, it?s about me, and my bile ducts, and how unique I am and how I?ve suffered. And that is what hell is like.

Anne Lamott

you begin to notice all the props surrounding these people, and you begin to understand how props define us and comfort us, and show us what we value and what we need, and who we think we are.

Anne Lamott

You have to be a warrior and say, Maybe it's everyone else's system, but it's not mine. (from her recent interview here, on Goodreads)

Anne Lamott

You're instantly in a bind once you arrive here on earth, of need, self-will, a body and a separate personality, even before the crippling self-consciousness kicks in, even before the seventh grade ... you're fucked at cell division... it's all downhill from there. After that, it's all survival, and trying to keep yourself either entertained or convinced that the things you're obsessed with are of any importance at all in the big scheme.

Anne Lamott

Sometimes I think that Jesus watches my neurotic struggles, and shakes his head and grips his forehead and starts tossing back mojitos.

Anne Lamott

Talking to the parents of older kids was helpful for me, since the parents of kids the same age as yours won't admit how horrible their children are... you can either practice being right or practice being kind. Screaming in the car helped.

Anne Lamott

There really is only today, although luckily that is also the eternal now.

Anne Lamott

This is a hard planet, and we?re a vulnerable species. And all I can do is pray: Help. When

Anne Lamott

To be engrossed by something outside the rational mind, the mind that so frequently has its head up its own ass--seeing things in such a narrow and darkly narcissistic way that it presents a colo-rectal theology, offering hope to no one.

Anne Lamott

We aren't a drop in the ocean, but are the ocean, in drops.

Anne Lamott

We who are your closest friends feel the time has come to tell you that every Thursday we have been meeting, as a group, to devise ways to keep you in perpetual uncertainty frustration discontent and torture by neither loving you as much as you want nor cutting you adrift. Your analyst is in on it, plus your boyfriend and your ex-husband; and we have pledged to disappoint you as long as you need us. In announcing our association we realize we have placed in your hands a possible antidote against uncertainty indeed against ourselves. But since our Thursday nights have brought us to a community of purpose rare in itself with you as the natural center, we feel hopeful you will continue to make unreasonable demands for affection if not as a consequence of your disastrous personality then for the good of the collective.

Anne Lamott

What if you wake up some day, and you?re 65? and you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life?

Anne Lamott

When I feel like shoveling in food, the emptiness can be filled only with love.

Anne Lamott

When I was a child, I thought grown-ups and teachers knew the truth, because they told me they did. It took years for me to discover that the first step in finding out the truth is to begin unlearning almost everything adults had taught me, and to start doing all the things they'd told me NOT to do. Their main pitch was that achievement equaled happiness, when all you had to do was study rock stars, or movie stars, or them, to see that they were mostly miserable. They were all running around in mazes like everyone else.

Anne Lamott

Why couldn't Jesus command us to obsess over everything, to try to control and manipulate people, to try not to breathe at all, or to pay attention, stomp away to brood when people annoy us, and then eat a big bag of Hershey's Kisses in bed?

Anne Lamott

Why do we make it all seem like a crisis, over and over again? Why do we worry it all to death, like dogs with socks or chew-toys? 'Look at it this way...In a hundred years? - All new people.

Anne Lamott

Who as a young person, like me, accepted being alone quite a lot. I think that this sort of person often becomes either a writer or a career criminal.

Anne Lamott

Write as if your parents are dead.

Anne Lamott

You try to sit down at approximately the same time every day. This is how you train your unconscious to kick in for you creatively.

Anne Lamott

So a moral position is not a message. A moral position is a passionate caring inside you.

Anne Lamott

Since you can't heal your own sick mind with your own sick mind, I needed to consult somebody else's sick mind.

Anne Lamott

Some aching beauty comes with huge loss, although maybe not right away, when it would be helpful. Life is a very powerful force, despite the constant discouragement. So if you are a person with connections to life, a few tendrils eventually break through the sidewalk of loss, and you notice them, maybe space out studying them for a few moments, or maybe they tickle you into movement and response, if only because you have to scratch your nose.

Anne Lamott

Sometimes love does not look like what you had in mind

Anne Lamott

Sue had been told that tumors had developed in her liver and lungs. She had been in a deep depression for a while, but she finally followed Barb's advice to call me after various people at her church kept saying that she could be happy - she was going home to be with Jesus. This is the type of thing that gives Christians a bad name. This, and the Inquisition. Sue wanted to open fire on them all. I think I encouraged this. Some of her evangelical friends had insisted sorrowfully that her nieces wouldn't get into heaven, since they were Jews, as was one of her sisters. I told her what I believe to be true - that there was not one chance in a million that the nieces wouldn't go to heaven, and if I was wrong, who would even want to go? I promised that if there was any problem, she and I would refuse to go. We'd organize. What kind of shitty heaven would that be, anyway? she asked.

Anne Lamott

There are moments when I am writing when I think that if other people knew how I felt right now, they?d burn me at the stake for feeling so good, so full, so much intense pleasure.

Anne Lamott

There was going to be a spot for me in this joint, the earth, after all. It was never going to be a great match for someone as bright and strange as me, but books were going to make it survivable.

Anne Lamott

There are times in our lives ? scary, unsettling times ? when we know that we need help or answers but we?re not sure what kind, or even what the problem or question is. We look and look, tearing apart our lives like we?re searching for car keys in our couch, and we come up empty-handed. Then when we?re doing something stupid, like staring at the dog?s mismatched paws, we stumble across what we needed to find. Or even better, it finds us. It wasn?t what we were looking or hoping for, which was usually advice, approval, an advantage, safety, or relief from pain. I was raised to seek or achieve them, but like everyone, I realized at some point that they do not bring lasting peace, relief, or uplift. This does not seem fair, after a lifetime spent in their pursuit.

Anne Lamott

These two things are almost all I want, but unfortunately, neither one is my strong suit. I am very strong on blame, and wish this were one of God's values, but trust, surrender? Letting go, forgiveness? Maybe just after a period of prayer, but then when the mood passes and real life rears its ugly head again? Not so much. I hate this, the fact that life is usually Chutes and Ladders, with no guaranteed gains. I cannot will myself into having these qualities, so I have to pray for them more often, if I want to be happy. I have to create the habit, just as I had to do with daily writing, and flossing.

Anne Lamott

Think of a fine painter attempting to capture an inner vision, beginning with one corner of the canvas, painting what he thinks should be there, not quite pulling it off, covering it over with white paint, and trying again, each time finding out what his painting isn't, until finally he finds out what it is.

Anne Lamott

This is what separates artists from ordinary people: the belief, deep in our hearts, that if we build our castles well enough, somehow the ocean won't wash them away. I think this is a wonderful kind of person to be.

Anne Lamott

Thurber was right when he said, You might as well fall flat on your face as lean over too far backwards.

Anne Lamott

Tom has been having a difficult patch, and we meet at the church of IKEA as often as possible, because it is equidistant from our houses and always cheers us up. Yesterday I asked, 'In your depression, and with so many people having such a hard time, where is Advent?' He tried to wiggle out of it by saying, 'You Protestants and your little questions!' Then, when pushed, he said: 'Faith is a decision. Do we believe we are ultimately doomed and fucked and there's no way out? Or that God and goodness make a difference? There is heaven, community, and hope - and hope that there is life beyond the grave.' 'But Tom, at the same time, the grave is very real, dark and cold and lonely.' 'Advent is not for the naive. Because in spite of the dark and cold, we see light - you look up, or you make light, with candles, or with strands of lightbulbs on trees. And you give light. Beauty helps, in art and nature and faces. Friends help. Solidarity helps. If you ask me, when people return phone calls, it's about as good as it gets. And who knows beyond that.

Anne Lamott

We can pray for a shot at having a life in which we are present and awake and paying attention and being kind to ourselves. We can pray, Hello? Is there anyone there? We can pray, Am I too far gone, or can you help me get out of my isolated self-obsession? We can say anything to God. It?s all prayer.

Anne Lamott

When Sam was six or so, he explained to me why we call God God: Because when you see something so great, you just go, 'God!

Anne Lamott

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

Anne Lamott

When we did art with the kids, the demons would lie down.

Anne Lamott

With THC in your system, you don't dream. And you need to. Otherwise it is like losing one of your senses. Dreams are part of your wholeness... when you're dreaming, you're not the one calling the shots. So it's a reprieve... the dream world had rules in it. You couldn't read a clock in your dreams. It would not give you the time. If the lights were on in a room, you could not turn them off in a dream... in indigenous tribes all over the world, the dream world was like church.

Anne Lamott

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.

Anne Lamott

Writing takes a combination of sophistication and innocence; it takes conscience, our belief that something is beautiful because it is right.

Anne Lamott

You can either set brick as a laborer or as an artist. You can make the work a chore, or you can have a good time. You can do it the way you used to clear the dinner dishes when you were thirteen, or you can do it as a Japanese person would perform a tea ceremony, with a level of concentration and care in which you can lose yourself, and so in which you can find yourself.

Anne Lamott

You get your intuition back when you make space for it, when you stop the chattering of the rational mind. The rational mind doesn?t nourish you. You assume that it gives you the truth, because the rational mind is the golden calf that this culture worships, but this is not true. Rationality squeezes out much that is rich and juicy and fascinating.