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Soul-Curing Work

Hermit's Peak, New Mexico
Hermit's Peak, New Mexico

I've always considered blogging as a free-form medium. Almost like poetry. When I sit down to blog I'm usually not thinking about anything in particular. I write like I assume a reader knows what I'm talking about. Doesn't care too much about catching all the references (although enjoys them when they do.). Hell, I don't even know if anyone reading these has stuck with them enough to know what I'm talking about. In a day and age where algorythms serve as our digital eyes who knows what is actually seen or not seen, depending on your ad budget.

Speaking of digital crap, Facebook reminded me of a quote I shared a year ago today about how Life is not meant to serve art, it's the other way around: Art is meant to serve life. Stephen King said something like it. You're online. If you want the exact quote, just open a new page and look it up.

I'm humbled and challenged by sentiments like that. For the rest of us who aren't literary trillionaires, the idea that art should come first and a paying job second feels like preying on our dreams. But I also get it. I desperately want it to be so.

So, here I am out on the other side of life. A life I thought would end by now. I feel like every couple years or so I find myself in terra incognita. Faced with people and places and ways of being which I never could have imagined prior. Strange.

Another thing we're told is how we ought to write for ourselves first. I struggle with this too. I like writing for other people. I have to fight to not write for an audience, in the slim hope that some opulent set of people far away will take pity on my art and give a crap. This too is horrible. So I blog. Blogging is relatively free. It's also freeing because here I really do write for myself. I mean, I love when I get a stray comment (they come rarely, few and far between), but for the vast majority it is digital silence... just my fingers clacking away on my keys.

I guess I struggle partly because what makes my heart soar is not usually what pays the bills. I have this sneaking sentiment that it ought to. Here I am, in the middle. What to do? I do marketing to help actually pay the bills - freelance, so I don't have to be as trapped in a soul-sucking office. I purposefully try to live as freely as possible because I couldn't stand it otherwise.

Back in the Midwest people had a hard time comprehending this. The fact that I'd rather live as a free-spirited semi-nomad artist. It galled them. I could practically hear their brows furrowing. They are people of the earth and I do not begrudge them of their ways. But all the same, I insist on my own as well. Back in Missouri, it is a land of blood and roots. It is a place where change comes slowly... if it comes at all. But they care about their families there, on the most part. Real estate is cheap and it's familiar. You can feel the seasons change. You know when winter comes.

A few months ago I was called a 'Bohemian' by my wife's best friend. Like it was a dirty word. I laughed. A year or more I was warned not to share my real feelings online by another Missourian. How funny. Odd. Interesting. The roots of these admonishments are utterly foreign to me. Yet I also have a ridiculously strong sense of duty. It keeps me up at night. Makes me not plant my feet. Makes my leg jump with nervous energy. Bothers me on sunny days.

I think that we like to forget that we are all desperate people, in the end. We all desperately yearn for something. It sets our lives in motion. I think CS Lewis(?) once said something like the state of utter lack is the truest human condition. Desire is a hell of a drug and we're all hooked for life.

In a few weeks I can slip away up into the mountains for a few days and do my very best to rest and write. Let the mountains do their soul-curing work.

- Ryan

1 Comment

Cherie Postill
Oct 05, 2019

Hi Ryan! THX for sharing. You and I will have a fabulous, long talk some day. I believe that a lot of people feel like aliens in a strange land. You are correct, what makes or hearts soar is supposed to be enough. Write what is in your heart and forget about any other reason.

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