Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Accept No Substitutes

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As I take off the WiR tiara, stash the sash and leave the supermarkets openings and reality show appearances to Miss January, I want to use this final post for some parting thoughts about writing, reading and life. Because these and everything we do are all about one thing, I think. One thing only.

The Buddhists say that all human beings want and need the same thing, we are just going about it in different ways. The more I write and read and live the more I am convinced that there is one reason alone that we exist, one common goal and challenge that all people share. The reason we exist is to learn how to love. We are learning how to love ourselves.

Every action, every thought, every desire and impulse and work and intention is somehow to do with learning to love ourselves. This is where love should start because it requires forgiveness, the healing of shame, putting to rest the illusion of separation, acceptance and all other skills that truly loving involves.

It’s easy to be convinced by the selfishness and cruelty we see that most people are not in fact learning to love or at least not learning it very well. Anyone acting out in a difficult manner is doing so because they don’t feel safe which is a prerequisite to feeling loved or they don’t feel loved which is a prerequisite to feeling safe— it’s a funny old world.

What you need to be careful of is accepting the things offered to us as love. It’s a tremendous fallacy that people who are egotistical or selfish love themselves. Measuring our worth by what we own is not love. Viewing our failures as defining is not love. Fame is not loving ourselves. Being with people who do not love or respect or encourage you is not loving ourselves.

Pay attention to what nurtures you. Practice kindness in your relations with yourself. Listen to others and know that when they are not kind, they speak their own pain, not yours. Forget success attached only to goals and attach it to progress. Hold out for what is better than fame or things or any other benchmark of achievement other than how you’re doing today with your relationship to yourself.

Work at the difficult task of learning to love yourself and you will inevitably learn to love other people. But yourself is where you start. Learn that and all else will fall into place without trying.

That, I think, is the only reason for writing or reading or doing anything at all. With that, I lay down my crown, I put aside the sash and I wish you all a wonderful new year.


The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Anne Hines

Anne Hines is the author of three novels, Fishing Up the Moon (Pedlar Press, 1998), The Spiral Garden (McArthur & Co, 2005) and Come Away: song of songs (McArthur & Co., 2007) and one collection of nonfiction humour, A Year In HineSight (McArthur & Co, 2002). A series of essays, Parting Gifts: notes on loss, love and life is due for publication by McArthur & Co, fall 2008.

Go to Anne Hines’s Author Page