I saw Anne Lamott and Jack Kornfield at San Francisco’s Nourse Theater last night, and they were wonderful. I didn’t know anything about Jack Kornfield before last night, but the rapport between them was palpable, and I was deeply moved by the thoughts and stories they shared about the permanence of imperfection, the lifelong need to try, fail, and try again, and our overaching need for love above all things. They broached the topic of Ferguson almost immediately, which I was grateful for. I lost count of the phrases that expressed my confused, contradictory state of mind almost to the letter, or touched some locus of true emotion within me.
On the drive home there was a bottleneck of traffic on the freeway exit to downtown Oakland, and I saw a column of smoke, then what appeared to be at least 100 police officers in riot gear at the side of the freeway. I wondered what was burning – it turned out to be a dumpster fire – and I had the thought that I’ve seen expressed in many places over the last few days. Is the world just irreparably broken? Is humanity simply broken beyond repair? Perhaps. Or maybe this isn’t what the world is like when it’s broken down – maybe this is simply what the world is like.
Who can say? Certainly not me. I suppose I can just stagger along and do my best. As Anne Lamott said in her story about the little bird who tried to hold up the sky with its feet, we do what we can with what we have. There is horror and pain in the world, but there is beauty and love too. I’ve received numerous words of appreciation and encouragement over the past few days; they’ve meant so much to me. People have shown me such kindness. There are ways in which the world may be irreparably broken, but there are ways in which it couldn’t be better.
I’ll try to follow the many words of wisdom that were spoken last night. I will try not to turn away. I’ll look for the helpers. I’ll understand that we can never perfect ourselves, but we can try to perfect our love. I’ll continue to try, fail, and try again.