There’s something about reading letters, diaries, and memoirs that always makes me feel at home. I feel so at home in them because like Mel Robbins says: we all live in the same place, the mind.
Reading about other people’s struggles, their hopes, their fears, and their achievements gives me hope, inspiration, and motivation to overcome my problems. Their experiences empower me. I feel braver. I become more resolute than ever.
When I’m lucky I learn not only how people face their struggles, but how they face their struggles with a sense of humor.
Recently, I’ve been reading Flannery O’Connor’s letters, and I’m learning how she kept a sense of humor throughout her life. Flannery is a 20th-century American writer who wrote novels, essays, and short stories. She’s also considered a Southern writer.
During the time span of these letters, Flannery has health issues to deal with, she’s stressed because she’s waiting to find out which publisher will publish her book, she’s receiving positive and negative feedback on her manuscript, and she worries about being tight on money.
Even though we get this sense that “the struggle is real for her”, her sense of humor radiates in her writing. She knows how and when to be funny.
Today, I’d like to share some of the passages in her letters that made me smile.
“I have just discovered that my mother’s dairyman calls all the cows he: he ain’t give but two gallons, he ain’t come in yet,–also he changes the name endings: if its Maxine, he calls it Maxima. I reckon he doesn’t like to feel surrounded by females or something.”from Letters 1951
“I had to go have my picture taken for the purposes of Harcourt Brace. They were all bad. (The pictures.) The one I sent looked as if I had just bitten my grandmother and that this was one of my few pleasures, but all the rest were worse.”from Letters 1952
“My parent is out chasing two visiting mules off the premises. She runs the car after them for about thirty feet. Then they stop, turn around and stand there looking at the car. Then she gets out and says SHOO and throws up her arms. Then they run about twenty feet. Then she gets in the car and looks as if she is going to run smack over them. They stand there and look at the car, she gets out and says SHOO and throws up her hands. It goes on that way all down to the entrance of the place. She will chase them out and then I suspect they will follow the car back, and be where they were when she arrives.”from Letters 1952
Flannery’s writing shows her ability to find humor in every-day situations. Humor becomes a form of hope. She seems to tell readers: yes, the struggle is real, but it’s our choice to keep or find our sense of humor.