Why I Write

I do not write because I understand. I write in order to understand.

Writing for me has become a deeply transformational spiritual discipline.

I started blogging six years ago. I felt like I was entering a wilderness of my own. I see my blogging as a way to map my spiritual journey. Little did I know what the future had in store . . . a deep and excruciating depression, divorce, job loss, loss of health benefits, foreclosure of the home my children were born in. My wilderness was like an earthquake that left nothing unturned. So each time I post, like the Israelites in the wilderness, it was a monument to something new (a new perspective or insight or a new set of questions) that I must REMEMBER. So like the Israelites, I go back to my “monuments”, my altars of stone, my piles of rocks, regularly. I want to make sure I never forget my own pain and its transformation of my heart nor do I ever want to forget the pain of others. I now can enter in to their pain with them and just be there with them. See more here: The Way of Compassion and The Way of the Brokenhearted

For me, writing has become a way to listen to my inner teacher . . . my inner light. Then as I hear something new . . . or disruptive . . . that I know I must live by, a diamond that emerges from the darkness, I write about it. Writing about it helps me clarify my inner truth and it also gives me something to go back to . . . so I don’t forget my journey, and the gifts of wisdom, born of beauty and pain, the rose and the thorn, each step of the way. I wrote my blog for over a year before anybody came across it. I still don’t have a lot of followers because I only talk about it with those that might get it. I get a lot of blank stares… So I don’t go out and try to find people to read it. But when I have a conversation with someone that touches on something I’ve written about, it is really nice to be able to go back to my blog posts and share parts of my journey. It is a way to relate with someone beneath the surface, from the heart. I get soooo tired of life on the surface where no one cares about anything but external things; when what really matters are the deeper things. “The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart” (Helen Keller)

Here is a quote from a book I’m reading that has really changed my heart, Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer. This quote tells why I tell my story:
“The experience of darkness has been essential to my coming into selfhood, and telling the truth about that fact helps me stay in the light. But I want to tell that truth for another reason as well: many young people today journey in the dark as the young always have, and we elders do them a disservice when we withhold the shadowy parts of our lives. When I was young, there were very few elders willing to talk about the darkness; most of them pretended that success was all they had ever known. As the darkness began to descend on me in my early twenties, I thought I had developed a unique and terminal case of failure. I did not realize that I had merely embarked on a journey toward joining the human race.”

Sometimes as we journey through the wilderness, we forget the “why” of the journey, what is it that I am heading for. The trail just goes on and on and on. Then it hits me. “I had merely embarked on a journey toward joining the human race.” a journey inward, beneath the surface, to my soul. A journey to find that divine purpose embedded in my soul. A journey of  silence, listening to “that of God” in my soul, telling me what I am here for, what is my calling on this earth, what gifts was I born with that I have not yet brought forth, what difference my life will make, what imprint will it leave behind?

At the deepest level, there seems to be three question that have emerged for me:

Who am I? (my Identity)

Why am I here? (my Purpose)

What am I going to do about it? (my Mission)

A another question also emerges as part of  the first question. Whose am I? (my Community)

 

Writing has become a way for me to find my voice

and to give voice to my questions;

a journey from dogmatism and certainty

to inquiry and dialog,

from living with clenched fists to living with open hands.

Life is an unfolding of truth. Life is a journey, a process we must live out. And writing, for me, is part of that process.

“A writer is dear and necessary for us only in the measure of which he reveals to us the inner workings of his very soul.” (Leo Tolstoy)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see
whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess
to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.
This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I
write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in
assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then
build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its
humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this
impulse.”
(Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet)

“2 AM and I’m still awake, writing a song
If I get it all down on paper, it’s no longer inside of me,
Threatening the life it belongs to

“And I feel like I’m naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you’ll use them, however you want to”
(Lyrics: Breathe, Anna Nalick)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As I continued blogging, many people from many countries (Jan. 2014 update: over 33,500 hits from 142 countries; and Sept. 2016 update: 48,791 and May 2017: 53,317 hits from over 150 countries) have visited Living with Open Hands. Maybe it is the honestly, authenticity, and humility that comes from the discipline of silence (see Out of the Silence) that draws people in. I don’t know, but I am deeply humbled. You tell me!

 

These quotes speak my heart so clearly. Sometimes It is a blessing and sometimes it is a curse. But over time, even though I haven’t sought out people to share my journey, one by one, they have. I’ve found such deep peace and blessing from their comments; affirming to me that this gift I have been given is touching people. It fills me with such a fullness that tears well up and overflow . . .

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“I like reading your blogs. Every time I read your blogs I
get something new out of them. So I’m printing them off” .
. . 60 pages later . . .
Rest in peace, Grandma, I miss you!!!
At age 90, she was my first and favorite blog fan!!!

Here are a few more of the 220 comments:

I stumbled on your blog….and was blown away by your depth
and honesty. Wow! You seem to have followed that less well
traveled path I myself have traveled, yet stumbled off of in
search of “security”…you eloquently express many thoughts I’ve
pushed down over the years as I immersed myself in raising a
couple of kids and letting myself get sucked into the mundane
side of domesticity and work…I read most of your myspace
blog….what an amazing journey you have taken and continue to
take. Keep exploring the hard questions and working through
the rawness of life lived beyond the surface…inspiring!
Kay

I have read and resonate with so many of your beautifully-written and poignant postings both here and on your blog Ron.
Your connection to one of our mutual inspirations – John O’Donohue – led me here
Kind thanks for sharing your gentle poetic spirit/voice. You communicate so eloquently what many of us feel but are unable to articulate…
… look forward to reading more when I get a chance… oh and I will pinch some of these to share with others
bless
D ♥

letting you know the further I look into your blog the more I feel I
am coming home ….
Laurel

Your blog raises questions and issues I was waiting (ready) for…a deep gratitude Ron. Your writings have shaken me this morning so deeply that I felt overwhelmed…their honesty, expressed with simple words resonates so much…I’m french speaking, live in Belgium and don’t have the words to express correctly what I feel, but what I need to tell you is that you speak about the ultimate issues with an authenticity which is rare… I was specially deeply touched about your writings on integrity which I value the most in my life… your blog is so rich I need time to read it the all way through, I’ve been rarely facing my own questionings written with the accuracy that I lack…~sigh~ all is locked within me and I have difficulties to communicate with my fellows about these important issues, so I always feel gratitude when I stumble on someone as talented as you… since I’m on Facebook there were only two who reveal parts of light and truth my soul is yearning for : the author Jeff Brown…and you, thanks for getting in touch, looking forward to reading you again and again… rereading me I have that feeling again that my language is so poor to tell you exactly what I mean but, anyway…I did it with my heart 🙂 and ask myself ‘why don’t I meet people like you in my ‘real life’? …All the best, Claude.

I believe your blog will be a source of inspiration for her…..if it
could pull me right out of the fog I’ve been stuck in for a decade
now, it can certainly help inspire her to live the courage of her
convictions.
I feel like I have been reborn–not ‘born again’ but awakening
what had gone dormant……I feel the urge to have an exchange
with you about each one….to slowly digest them and let them
water my dry spirit.
I am so awed at the poetry of your work–how you combine the
visual image with the quotes with your own reflections and
questions–so powerful–such a gift!
Kay

Ron- all I can say is, thank you. Just thank you. Thank you for being courageously authentic and real- I love reading the things you post. And I admire your courage. This is a courage I will have to pick up at some point. I’ve always loved the stuff you post on facebook- just now I’ve decided to look back again at your blog… it’s been a few years. I love reading your work, reading something that is so deep, true, and honest. Thanks again
-Mikea

Comment on Why I Write: I loved the Leo Tolstoy comment as well- I am deeply grateful to you for revealing your soul- I think what is so refreshing to me about your voice in writing is that you reveal a depth that you don’t see everyday- in response to a comment you made in this entry- I too get tired of a life that is totally on the surface, I have to find meaning. -Mikea

I absolutely love Living with Open Hands. I only found you yesterday and so much of what you share resonates with me. It takes great courage to open your heart and soul to others.
Thank you. Rowena.

Comment on “Seeing”
Hey Ron,Geez, after reading this, it makes one wonder, can we
really see at all? Keep on bloggin’,
David

I thank you for sharing your journey online….it really has
inspired me to “lean into my future” with new enthusiasm.
Kay

I have been reading your blog lately. I just wanted to let
you know that I am finding so much comfort and hope as
I do so. The single parent and gentleness writings have
been so helpful of late. Helpful to me because you are
going beneath the placating & accepted surfaces put on
these subjects. You know of the pain and the reward if
you live it. It is encouraging to know there are others who
ride through the storms and that our reacting is
legitimate.
Laurel

Ron, your blog spoke to that buried part of my soul in a
deep way….I felt tears of empathy for the courageous
journey you so eloquently express–what a precious gift of
vulnerability you have given. I’m blown away to find
somebody from my youth who might actually be able to
understand ME, the me that nobody knows or
understands.
Kay

Your words are mesmerizing. Honestly, I wish I could
communicate my thoughts into words like that . . .
Some people try to use tricks to do what you did. Some
people will use huge, big words and complex analogies
in an attempt to sound intelligent, and end up not saying
much at all. Some people like to employ ‘willfull
ignorance’ and convince themselves that their sub-par
writing good enough (just try reading Twilight, lol). but
with your words, there was the perfect balance of
intellect, simplicity and heart for me to see what you were
trying to say. And that, my friend, is what mesmerized me.
You’ve inspired me. I am going to start a blog, it’s going
to be on my fanpage and on a separate blog too. It might
not be amazing, but I want to do it. Thank You!
Khadija

Comment on “Bullet Holes and Poverty”
A very powerful post on your blog…you captured the
craziness and the heartbreak of it all quite well.  It is a
good piece that should be more widely read.  Thanks for
putting it out there.
Chris

Comments on “living the questions”
This is beyond amazing. Thanks for posting! Is this in a
book? Or where can I find this article?
Marty

I crave for more!! And will follow to find more…knowing it’
s out there:)
Lynn

Comment on “the way of the brokenhearted”
Very POWERFUL and so true!! I loves the Psalms too
and know that Gods plan is perfect! Tho He allows us
storms to weather through….His promise is that He is
right there to carry us through…if we let Him with a
willingness. He has carried me through many tough
storms and through each one of them I learn so many
new things . . .  Sir, I want to thank you for your words of
wisdom and too I thank God for bringing you into my life,
so I could read the beauty here on this page:)
God bless you,
Lynn

Comment on “Malignancy”:
I think you have done a very good job of describing one of
the greatest problems of our modern world.  I think each
one of us has to realize that we can cure it in every
conversation, every interaction, and every moment that
we spend with others.
Power Ranger Freak

Comment on “the progression toward compassion”
This was very powerful. I’m glad I found you on WordPress as I
used to follow you on Xanga. Thanks for your work. Your
writings are both convicting and encouraging.
Captain Quaker

I spent some time delving into your blog and some of your writings yesterday. There is no doubt in my mind you have MEANING in your heart and the capitalization is no exaggeration. It seems to me you have your finger on the pulse of human significance. And you’ll have to forgive my fascination with my new found “filters” but as I read what you have written I see COMPETENCE, RELATEDNESS and AUTONOMY jumping off the page and into my heart. I have to say my friend that you continue to inspire me and help me “get past myself” when I really need the push!
Steve

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12 Responses “Why I Write” →

  1. Rowena Halle

    June 20, 2011

    I absolutely love Living with Open Hands. I only found you yesterday and so much of what you share resonates with me. It takes great courage to open your heart and soul to others.
    Thank you

    Like

    Reply
  2. Awe. Thank you so much for your words to me. I’ve felt compeled to tell my story, to journal my journey, so that others may awaken to their inner light and find the peace that increases within me day by day. It is out of the Darkest Night of my Soul that these words come forth. They have no airs. The facade has burned away. What am I left with? Just me. And a sense of wonder and gratitude for all.

    Like

    Reply

  3. Rowena Halle

    July 3, 2011

    Your wonderful writing is your gift to us.

    Like

    Reply
  4. Thank you Rowena.

    Like

    Reply
  5. Hi Ron,
    Your blog is amazing!

    Diane

    Like

    Reply
  6. Ron- all I can say is, thank you. Just thank you. Thank you for being courageously authentic and real- I love reading the things you post. And I admire your courage. This is a courage I will have to pick up at some point. I’ve always loved the stuff you post on facebook- just now I’ve decided to look back again at your blog… it’s been a few years. I love reading your work, reading something that is so deep, true, and honest. Thanks again
    -Mikea

    Like

    Reply
  7. I loved the Leo Tolstoy comment as well- I am deeply grateful to you for revealing your soul- I think what is so refreshing to me about your voice in writing is that you reveal a depth that you don’t see everyday- in response to a comment you made in this entry- I too get tired of a life that is totally on the surface, I have to find meaning.

    Like

    Reply
  8. Hey Ron! I’ve very interested to get together and talk about this “darkness” I agree! Far too many don’t like talking about it, but it is our experience in the dark that teaches us the necessity of light!

    Like

    Reply
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