Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bible flip Birthday Bash

Today is my birthday. So far, so good. I bought myself a book last night, and I've spent the entire morning, and now part of the afternoon, in bed reading it. 95% of the time, I really hate my bedroom. It is not the sanctuary that Oprah says its supposed to be. It is very small and crowded, with piles of laundry and animal fur everywhere, and it is not insulated at all so it is either very hot or very cold. But this was one of those mornings where all the cat hair in the world could not detract from the sun streaming in the window, bright and happy, or the quiet of no dog barking, no leaf blowers blowing, no lawn mowers mowing. I just stayed in bed and read my book by myself and it was perfect and peaceful and lovely.
I read a sentence that made it even better: the author, Anne Lamott, quotes someone named David Roche who says "Eighty percent sincerity is about as good as its going to get. So is eighty percent compassion... So twenty percent of the time, you just get to be yourself." She follows the quote by saying, "Its such subversive material, so contrary to what society leads us to believe - that if you look good, you'll be happy, and have it all together, and you'll be successful and nothing will go wrong and you wont have to die, and the rot wont get in."
I felt such relief when I read that. I only really have to be "good" eighty percent of the time, and the rest of the time I can just be a sloth and be wrong and bad and lazy and all the things I tell myself I am, like, sixty percent of the time. I like rules, I like to know what I am supposed to do, but I find living by all the rules every day a struggle. You have to eat healthy, you have to exercise, you have to be productive, you have to volunteer, you have to floss, you have to take good care of your money and be financially responsible, you have to reduce reuse recycle, you have to cut your toe nails and wash your hair, you have to get your car serviced, you have to walk your dog, you have to be kind to people, you have to try to not yell at your kid, you have to try to look good, you have to find time for yourself, you have to reconnect with your mate, you have to get enough sleep so you can do all of these things all over again tomorrow. Its relentless and exhausting and tedious, and I am relieved to read a rule that says I only have to do all of these things eighty percent of the time in order to qualify.
Last night, instead of going out to a fancy birthday dinner like we usually do, we went to Berkeley with my brother-in-law and his girlfriend and had a really good burrito and browsed in a bookstore. I was in the Religion section where I was looking for the Anne Lamott book I've been reading this morning, and Rob handed me a small thick book called The Daily Bible. Now, I preface this by saying that I mean no offense to any readers who are bible people or are religious in any way, so keep your shirts on. I told my companions that I read in some book about bible flips: this is where you ask a question that's nagging at you, and then flip to a random page in the bible, point to a random passage, and that passage will hold the answer to your particular problem. Sort of like a magic 8 ball. So I asked Katie what her particular problem was and she said "My boyfriend is really gassy." So I did the flip and landed on a passage that said something like, "And he sat on his throne and held his golden scepter..." and we are, of course, picturing a different kind of throne and a different kind of scepter, and I laughed so hard I cried, right in the middle of the religion section of the bookstore. So there we were, in hysterics, and Rob told us we were all going to hell. Then I asked the magic 8 ball, I mean, The Daily Bible, what to do about my misbehaving dog, and I landed on a passage that said Jerusalem had burned down and would be rebuilt. I guess that means that, eventually, I'll get a new sofa.
Finding out that you can be a cretin twenty percent of the time and having a really good burrito and laughing your head off are the best birthday gifts, so, happy birthday to me!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday, my dear. I like the 80% rule, very refreshing!