“And then,” as Anne Lamott writes in Bird by Bird, “learn to be…compassionate company, as if you were somebody you are fond of and wish to encourage.”
Now, reading this line felt like somewhere between a love-letter from the gods and a “DOH” with a bonk to the head. Of course the “gods” write a love letter. I’m the one who bonks my head in judgement. Hm. I don’t think that’s what Anne means.
I am learning that the most important task for me to learn, is to give myself a love-letter. Act as if I want to hang out in my space, have a chat, sit on the porch with a cup of tea and watch the clouds. I turn 40 this year, and I’m reflecting how long it took me to realize that I’M the one to really get to like, get to know, get curious about what makes me tick. As a writer, an artist, and generally curious soul, I’m infinitely curious about what’s OUT THERE.
That’s great! It’s my way of loving the world, accepting it for all it’s beauty and cruelty and gorgeous paradox. Now, what about MY OWN beauty, cruelty, and gorgeous paradox? For aren’t I all of that too? DEEP BREATH. Yes. Yes, I am.
Here’s a very simple map for learning to love myself. Get curious. About me. What do I think? What do I feel? What are the sensations going on beneath the surface of my skin? When I wonder about these things a whole fantastic and deeply interesting world opens up to me. What stories are there in the tension of my calf? If my fingers had a voice, what would they say? What is the color of the sense of peace I feel inside? The texture of my anger? The shape of my love?
In the wondering, I’m made whole. I don’t need to look to the gods above to write me a love letter, though the thought conjures images of handmade lace, a Mozart concerto, and the most delicate wildflower honey on a sun-warmed fresh fig. I am smiling at the thoughts I just conjured…. I just wrote a mini love letter to myself in those images. Pure joy in myself. I wish this for you today: Keep yourself company. Be lovingly and compassionate with your best friend in the world. You.