July 20, 2018

12 Truths Anne Lamott Learned from Life & Writing.

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.


When asked to give a TED Talk, Anne Lamott was surprised.

The acronym TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. As a fiction writer, novelist, political activist, public speaker, and writing teacher, these words are not in her wheelhouse. However, she said yes. 

“People are very, very frightened and feel really doomed in America these days. I just wanted to help people get their sense of humor about it and realize how much isn’t a problem. If you take an action, and if you take a really healthy or loving or friendly action, you’ll have loving and friendly feelings.” ~Anne Lamott

She did just that in her engaging, entertaining 15-minute talk. Offering a “basic operating instructions for anyone feeling overwhelmed” was her solution. Lamott created a list of what she “almost knows for sure.”

12 Truths I Learned from Life and Writing.

1. All truth is a paradox.

2. Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.

3. There is almost nothing outside of you that will help in any kind of lasting way unless you’re waiting for an organ.

4. Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy, and scared, even those who seem to have it most together.

5. Chocolate with 75 percent cocoa is not actually a food.

6. Every writer you know writes really terrible first drafts, but they keep their butt in the chair.

7. Publication and temporary creative successes are something you have to recover from.

8. Families are hard, hard, hard no matter how cherished and astonishing they may be.

9. Food: try to do a little better.

10. Grace is spiritual WD-40 or water wings.

11. God just means goodness: it’s really not all that scary.

12. Wow and yikes, it’s so hard to bear when the few people you can’t live without die.


Throughout the 12 points, Lamott dove deeper into each truth. I actively nodded, reflected, and laughed out loud. The talk was a salve for my soul.

Inspired, I pondered: what do I know almost for sure? It’s a great question that should be everyone’s next writing prompt, journal entry, or topic for dinner conversation. 

Off of the top of my head, this was my answer that day: I almost know for sure…the only thing that is always up, while constantly changing, is the sky.

Being “up” is trending. Learning how to harness happiness by reading the latest books or blogs, practicing the Law of Attraction, or collecting quotes on how to embrace it is overwhelming. Positivity floods our social media feeds. Despite what some may perceive, I am not always “up.” My glass is half full, but it gets knocked, tipped, or kicked over by others (or myself) as often as everyone else’s.

Our lives constantly change. As soon as we have a grip on our child’s sleeping schedule, on our relationship with a difficult person, or on anything we think we’ve mastered, it morphs right in front of our eyes. Change is annoying. It’s uncomfortable and hard. Yet, other times, it is refreshing. Like the weather patterns in the sky, we cannot control it. We also cannot manipulate it or our emotions. Yet both are a necessary part of our existence.

I do know the sky will always be above me, “up,” and filling my mind with wonder. The colors will play on my eyes, and the night sky will allow my mind to drift deep into a serene space. Yet, like life, it will thunderously clap, frightening my heart—then, shine the softest light upon my soul.

We all hold universal truths that ground us. The operating manual for when we feel life’s great overwhelm is already inside of us. Our wisdom helps us hold our own hands. 

Try being still.


Then answer: what do you know almost for sure?

Watch the full Anne Lamott TED Talk with incredibly insightful details behind each point here.

“The reason I talk to myself is because I’m the only one whose answers I accept.” ~ George Carlin

Share your truths. Submit your words. We look forward to hearing from you.


Read 11 Comments and Reply

Read 11 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Kate Fleming  |  Contribution: 87,120

author: Kate Fleming

Image: screenshot

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina