What’s with the bananas?

There’s a book by Anne Lamott that begins with a story about her little brother struggling to write a book report on birds. He’s sitting at the kitchen table in tears, faced with the enormous task of writing this long-procrastinated report. Lamott’s father sits down next to him a says, “‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”

Lamott’s irreverent, lyrical, spiritual, and often downright wacky writing resonates with me and is also often referenced by my family. One evening, I was in my mom’s kitchen, watching her bake banana bread. She stores the old bananas in the freezer and takes them out when she is going to bake. The volume of bananas in the freezer was starting to amount to an infestation, so she began steadily working her way through them, defrosting banana after banana to make loaf after loaf of banana bread.

“Banana by banana. Just take it banana by banana,” I said and we both cracked up, looking at the mountain of frozen bananas. We decided that if Anne Lamott had a weird younger sister, “Banana by Banana” would be the title of her debut self-help book.

Lamott bills the bird-by-bird approach as “instructions for life and writing,” but I think it’s also great advice for recovery. Everyone’s recovery journey is unique, but for people who don’t the stereotypical narrative of people with eating disorders, there really isn’t a road map. I’m just taking each day, each meal, each choice as it comes. I’m taking recovery banana by banana.


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