Great Britain

How to be hopeful: Anne Lamott on the awe of everyday play

Hope changes as you get a little older, from the hope that this or that happens, to hope in life, old friends, laughter, art, goodness, helpers. I hope and am amazed, some early mornings, at just finding myself alive. I thought as I approached 18 years old that I was a goner, for sure. And here I am, still alive, still here and often in a good mood. Other early mornings? Not so much. My back aches, my vision fades, I can’t concentrate. It’s like in the Samuel Beckett novel: “You must go on. I can’t go on. I’ll go on.” Recently, the car needed a new bumper, because I keep backing into the same goddamn tree that insists on standing too close to the driveway and rushing at my car as I pull out, so I dropped it off at the mechanic’s and walked down the street to a coffeehouse where a friend would pick me up. As I did, I passed a weedy empty lot where kids were playing a game involving tin cans and a deflated soccer ball. Watching them, I remembered the incredible boredom of childhood, and thought of the effervescent response that I had to playing almost 60 years ago, and that I had today. One of the kids flung the deflated ball through the tin-can goalpost, and I shouted: “Goal! Goal!” and got some slightly worried glances out of them. Then they went on with their play. Hope springs from that which is right in front of us, which surprises us, and seems to work.

Extracted from Almost Everything: Notes on Hope by Anne Lamott, published by Canongate (£9.99). To order a copy go to guardian.co.uk/bookshop. Free UK p&p over £15