Drinking the Juice of Coincidence: David Byrne, Anne Lamott, and God.

Read the book “Bird by Bird.” Go see David Byrne. Let amazing things happen.

Something rather amazing happened the other day.

I saw David Byrne and St. Vincent. But that wasn’t all.

When I got home from the show, I picked up my copy of “Bird by Bird” written by Anne Lamott. I have been reading it for a few weeks now, very slowly, savoring each page. I had probably read the last page of the third chapter about 20 times in the past week

 

 

 

I picked up the book after the show because the feeling of the music was still so palpable, I wanted to do something great with that energy;  like absorb some of Anne Lamott’s wisdom. I decided it was finally time to move on to the next page rather than re-read the last one again.

Here is an excerpt of what I read next, and it spans pages 28-31, so I apologize for not fully replicating the original flow of the text:

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people…Perfectionism is one way our muscles cramp. In some cases, we don’t even know that the wounds and the cramping are there, but both limit us. They keep us moving and writing in tight, worried ways. They keep us standing back or backing away from life… So how do we break through them and get on? It’s easier if you believe in God, but not impossible if you don’t…Now, it might be that your God is an uptight, judgmental perfectionist…but a priest friend of mine has cautioned me away from the standard God of our childhoods, who loves and guides you and then, if you are bad, roasts you: God as high school principal in a gray suit who never remembered your name…If this is your God, maybe you need to blend in the influence of someone who is ever so slightly more amused by you, someone less anal. David Byrne is good, for instance. Gracie Allan is good. Mr. Rogers will work.”

There is no way to explain how it felt to see that. My eyes triple-checked it in a flash, his name sat there like lead, like it was the only word I had ever truly read in my life. Like it was the only word that ever was and would ever be real. How could it be? And in that one word, Byrne, my whole universe collapsed and sprang forth. I was thunderstruck.

It was like things all came together, it was the solid center, the thing I’d been looking for, it was God!

Then Vicki Winslow made a post called “Something is Happening Around Me…” that further solidified what I felt. That there is always this magic, always this infusion of “wow” in what is around us. My book was supposed to be about that, and somewhere along the way the true feeling of those ridiculous coincidences slipped into the past. I am thankful for the refreshment.

For me, that feeling of seeing David Byrne’s name on the page right after the concert had the quality of a Zen koan; it helped me to wake up. I can look at any leaf of the tree across the street, and allow it to have a similar breathy magic to it; it’s not quite the same of course, but it does help remind me that in each little thing there is the same “wow” that was in those letters when I read them. For that one moment, I was just able to see it more clearly.

It’s like after you look at the night sky through a telescope, you never quite see it the same way. You know there are little smoky donuts and dust storms and things that are not visible with the naked eye..but you have seen them, so you know the depth that is possible. No longer will you see it as a one-dimensional sheet of black with some stars, even on a cloudy night.

I am simply grateful this week for such a coincidence, especially because now as I try to let go of perfectionism, I really do feel like God-mixed-with-David-Byrne is looking over my shoulder and patting me on the back when I do a good job.

 

Have you had any really cool coincidences lately, or in the past?

Do you think it means something when there is a coincidence like that, or do you think it’s just simply some events lining up in a way at random?

And what are those clouds in your sky doing right now? The ones in mine are long and bloated, moving with a quickness that seems to be happening despite their best efforts to take a nap.

Food for Thought: Are Bite-Sized Writing Tips Leaving You Hungry?

I like to think of myself as an adult in many ways; I especially love thinking of myself as Sam Elliott. One of my favorite parts of being an adult is that I like to cut up my own food. I even like to chew it.

We’ve all seen these blog entries:  “The Top 10 Ways to Get More Readers From Twitter” or “The 5 Traffic-Building Tips You NEED to Know!!!” and the like.

These lists have been bugging me for some time, and I think I’ve finally put my finger on why. It’s like I ordered a Portobello sandwich and the server decides to cut it into bite-size pieces for me. Not only that, but they’ve taken the liberty of pre-chewing it a little as well.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I do feel like those lists have a place and that some of them are genuinely useful, as the authors are far more experienced writers than I am. It’s just that the bulk of them feel like a strange shadow of heartfelt or even truly informative writing.

No matter how promising and informative they appear while I read or before I click on the title, the stuff doesn’t seem to stick.

It leaves me wondering- was I just fooled in some way? Did they get my click without giving me something in return? Perhaps there is another explanation.

Why Doesn’t The Stuff Stick?

Maybe it is that these “4 Big Ways to Make Your Blog Burst With Flavor!” articles don’t let me creatively organize and process the points that matter to me.

Reading Stephen King’s On Writing and Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing have given me kernels of knowledge and wisdom that roll around and around in my head, sticking with me long after the fact.

Neither of these books is organized in list-fashion.

Neither of them even attempt to slice up the ideas neatly into bite-size pieces. They let me cut, let me chew, let me sort it all out like an intelligent adult.

Little chunks of those books will pop up as I sit to write or as I walk around outside. That has never happened with Item #4 of “5 Reasons You Aren’t Getting More Traffic on Your Blog.”

Maybe It’s a Learning Style?

I’m wondering if perhaps this has something to do with learning style. Perhaps some people learn more effectively when the main points are all laid out, and others learn though the experience of figuring it out and learning what works for them.

Maybe I would retain more items if I wrote them down. Maybe if I put more energy into finding good posts or articles, more of them would stick. Maybe I am already learning from them and it is just such a smooth and flawless process that it slide right by my awareness.

I’m not sure. But at least I put my finger on my annoyance and have a direction to go in- which is towards more non-listy inspirations, books, and blog posts. These are more useful, memorable, inspirational and informative to my particular mind.

Do you like articles like that, have you written any that you are proud of?

What types of information seem to stay inspiring to you, and which kinds seem fun at first but then quickly fade, never to be thought of again?

And, what’s the sky look like right now?