Susan, thanks for your kind comment. It was an honor to marry you and Rich.
And now for the news: I've just returned from a nine day speaking tour in upstate New York. It was eighty-five degrees the whole time and my friend Carla and I thanked All That Is Divine for air-conditioning.
We drove from town to town and I spoke at three different Susan G. Komen events. They were all lovely, but the most fabulous was in the tiny town of Elmira, New York. They have no paid staff, only volunteers. The event was magical: organized, beautiful, well thought out. The people were kind, warm and generous.
I'm just now getting feedback from all these talks and I've managed to piss off a lot of people because I wasn't "preachin' Jesus" and I talked about death. The folks that loved my talks, loved it for those exact reasons.
Yes, of course I know that I can't please all the people all the time, but there is still this little kid in me that feels a bit stunned. Especially when I read a comment from a woman who is praying that I get back on the straight and narrow, quit using "shit" in my writing (oops) and stop talking about Buddhism.
Here's how it's shaking down: Those Who Have Never Had Cancer: didn't want to hear about spirituality or death; Cancer Survivors: loved hearing about both; Newly Diagnosed: Scared Shitless. (oops) Everyone agrees that my talk was unforgettable and that people are still talking about it.
New York state is fifty percent Catholic unlike my own state of Washington which is the most "unchurched" state in the nation. (And proud of it!) I realize what an amazing liberal bubble I live in here in Seattle. I'm speaking at the Komen Event here on October 27th and will rethink my talk--but not much.
If my goal is to sell books, then I have to tailor my talks so that people will like me. If people like you, they buy your books.
But you know what? That's not my goal. My goal is to get people thinking about death and dying and get comfortable talking about it. Talking about does not bring it on. If talking about something brought it on, I would have lost five pounds long time ago.
Being able to talk about death is freeing. I think that's why cancer survivors loved my talk--because cancer forces you to think about death. They've all had to think about it and it was refreshing for them to hear someone speak publicly.
As more responses come in, I'll share them with you. Tonight is my first reading at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park. Wine and cheese at 6 p.m. Reading at 7 p.m.! I can't wait.