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Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Lamott, Anne | Anchor, 1994


pp. 99 - 101

99: Lamott makes much of “reverance as awe, as presence in and openness to the world.” You want, every so often, to “have the fleeting sense of being startled by beauty or insight, by a glimpse into someone’s soul.” (100) The goal of writing is to help others have this “sense of wonder, of seeing things anew, things that can catch us off guard, that break in on our small, bordered worlds. When this happens, everything feels more spacious.” What’s the point? Why do we want things to go this way? I think this is the first stage of love. Benevolence toward being in general is the normal human attitude. To be (101) “surprised by the beauty or pain of the natural world” you need an alert awareness of what’s what. So Gary Snyder quoted by Lamott: “Ripples on the surface of the water were silver salmon passing under–different from the ripples caused by breezes.”