One of My Very Most Favorite Words

AmpersandHere’s proof that there are messages from the universe everywhere: I was reading People magazine last night, and it completely validated and reiterated something that’s been coming in to my awareness (and popping up in my talks with clients).

It’s about one of my favorite words.

I was reading an article about Anne Hathaway, and what she’s up to now that she’s been an Oscar winner for a full year now. Turns out she’s a Broadway fanatic, and she quotes one of her favorite lyrics from Stephen Sondheim’s play Into the Woods:

“Must it all be either less or more / Either plain or grand? / Is it always or? / Is it never and?”

And then she says, “I kind of approach my life from a place of and.

I don’t much go for celebrity worship—I swear, I must be getting old because I no longer know who half the people in trashy magazines are anymore—but, go Anne Hathaway. Because, ding ding ding!, and is my favorite word.

Hooray for and! And down with or (and it’s cousin, but).

I’ve talked recently about how we all think that in order to get more we have to do more, work harder, grind it out. Another, connected, belief that’s pervasive in the collective ether is that “You can’t have it all.” That, “You can’t always get what you want.” Which is all another way of saying that in pretty much every instance, you have to choose between one thing and the other.

I mean, I do believe in the power of a little sacrifice – meaning, sacrificing something of a lower nature in order to get something of a higher nature. That might mean you sacrifice two hours in commute time to get the job that’s going to launch you into a higher orbit—you know it’s finite, so you give up that nice-to-have thing for that important thing. An example from my own life is sacrificing a Saturday morning to go speak at the Lady Project Summit, which turned out to be an amazing and completely inspiring gathering of vibrant women in my very own hometown and also introduced me directly to a good-sized posse of cool women. It was so worth not going to my usual Saturday morning date, which is either a yoga class or some time messing around in the garden.

But I don’t believe that you have to choose between two sincere desires. Such as, to have kids and fulfilling work. Or, to have ample restorative downtime and a full schedule of meaningful work. My point of view is this: If you have the vision of what you really want, you also have all the means available to get it. I don’t buy that we have to sacrifice one form of sincere happiness to get another. I believe in AND.

Next time you’re stuck, feeling like you have to choose between two things that you really want, look for the and. It’s there, I promise you.


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