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As promised, I bring you a few more words from the incomparable Anne Lamott. This woman has lived hard, hurt much, and endeared many with the humor of her hard-won wisdom. Here’s the rest of what she had to say to the 2003 graduating class at Berkeley:

Find a path, and a little light to see by. Every single spiritual tradition says the same three things:

  1. Live in the now, as often as you can, a breath here, a moment there.
  2. You reap exactly what you sow.
  3. Take care of the poor… or there’s no hope for you.

You don’t have to go overseas. There are people right here who are poor in spirit; worried, depressed, dancing as fast as they can, whose kids are sick, or whose retirement savings are gone. There is great loneliness among us, life-threatening loneliness. Do what you can, what good people have always done:

  • Bring thirsty people water.
  • Share your food.
  • Help the homeless find shelter.
  • Stand up for the underdog.

Slow down. Stop. Breathe. Write. Sing. Eat cherries. Take some time to rest, but pay attention. Refuse to cooperate with anyone who is trying to shame you into hopping right back up onto the hamster wheel. Or with anyone who is stealing your freedom, your personal and civil liberties. 

Don’t forget to laugh. Anything that helps you get your sense of humor back feeds the spirit. Find people who laugh gently at themselves, and gently remind you to do the same. You may need to upgrade some of your friends. 

And — oh my God — I nearly forgot the most important thing: refuse to wear uncomfortable pants, even if they make you look really thin. Promise me you’ll never wear pants that bind or tug or hurt, pants that have an opinion about how much you’ve just eaten. The pants may be lying! There is way too much lying and scolding going on politically right now without your pants getting in on the act, too.

So bless you. You’ve done an amazing thing. And you are loved; you are capable of lives of great joy and meaning. It’s what you are made of. It’s what you’re for. So take care of yourselves; take care of each other.  

Thank you.

{And thank YOU, Anne Lamott! Hope you don’t mind that I paraphrased just a bit.}

Note: Sometimes the underdog we need to stand up for first is ourselves. So we can get off that hamster wheel, and stop cooperating with mindsets that rob us of the freedom to be who we really are. Then we’ll be able to slow down, rest, and redirect all that energy to do what we can for those who are still on the wheel — tired, lonely, hungry, and thirsty. Maybe even wearing uncomfortable pants.


Read the entire speech at NPR’s Best Commencement Speeches, Ever. 

Love Julie