Good morning, my dears.
A friend of this page sent me this photo the other day, of a favorite passage she'd marked in THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS.
(Don't worry, those of you who haven't read the novel yet! No spoilers here!)
I was so happy to see that this paragraph had caught her eye, because I feel it's one of the most important moments in the novel. This is Alma's response when, at the age of 83, she is asked to define her beliefs about life.
I had to put the word "stubborn" in there, because I think it's the key. Or at least it was for Alma. And has been for me.
Here's what stubbornness means to me, you guys:
There are days when I wake up at 5am, and for some reason the madness is right there waiting for me, like it's been sitting by the side of my bed all night. The disappointments, the anxiety, the regrets, the insecurity, the anger, the second-guessing — all of, waiting for me, with a greasy smile. Like: "Wake up, sucker! We can't wait to mess with your mind and give you a horrible day!"
Mornings like that happen to me more than you might ever guess.
Then there are the weeks and months when I feel like I can't love any of the people I'm supposed to love — including myself.
I fall into spells of living where I can't seem to take a correct step or a wise action. I've been depressed, anxious, confused and deeply ashamed of myself — often enduringly, often all the same time. More recently than you might imagine.
Follow any of that stuff to its natural destination, and one will find life to be bleak and sorrowful, indeed.
But you know what? I'm fucking STUBBORN, people. I will fight that shit. I insist on pursuing enjoyment and meaning in the life that I have been given — even when some of the times I feel half crazy and totally uncertain. I fight for the light. You give me a crack of light the width of my pinkie, I'm going to try to squeeze myself through it, if it kills me. I will find something good around me, I swear to God, and I will hunt it down eat it — sometimes literally (pizza). I will make myself go out in the world and look at something beautiful. I will demand that I find a way that day to commit an act of kindness on someone. I will insist on trying to create. I will not be ashamed to call up my old therapist and be like, "Listen, I need a tune-up here," and ask her to try to help me put my head on straight, rather than spinning in a vacuum of uncertainty. I will spend hours trying to find a goddamn inspirational quote that actually does its work on me. I will grab myself by my own hand and say, "Listen, kid — screw up as much as you want: I AM HERE TO LOVE YOU." And I won't let go.
You think those Happiness Jars that I talk about all the time are all about light and gladness and easy rays of sunshine? No — my Happiness Jar is a ninja weapon of stubborn defiance against the creep of despair. So is my relentless commitment to living a healthy creative life — a creative life that doesn't worship darkness. So is this Facebook page. So is my stuttering, semi-effective meditation practice. So is my tithing. So is my traveling. So is my care and feeding of my own curiosity. So is my hunt for divinity. So is my daily attempt to wring some forgiveness out of my soul — for myself, for others. (And then to try again the next day, if it doesn't work today.)
It's a word that saves my life every day, and has given my life whatever worth it's got.
So when it came time for Alma to review her own life, and to put her own dignity and worth in context…well. Ultimately, it all had to be about stubbornness.
Because without it? Nothing good will come.
Thanks for noticing, dear reader.
Go fight the fight today, you gorgeous warriors. Put your head up, put your fists up, push in hard…GO.