This is the first blog post I’ve written in over two months. And, for a while at least, it’s going to be the last.
I’ve enjoyed writing here, and I like to think I’ve sent a few things from here out into the world that were worth reading. I don’t consider it for a moment to have been a waste of my time, and I’ve appreciated most of the feedback I’ve received. But since I began this blog — way back in December of 2008 — my life has changed dramatically, largely in ways that I wouldn’t wish on Anders Breivik. And it’s affected my ability to write, and to write consistently.
So after much prayer and thought, I’m going to do what I probably should’ve done a long time ago. As of this writing, “Ray Anselmo, Professional Outsider” is going into mothballs.*
* Go ask your grandparents what mothballs are, and what they were used for. It’ll make sense then, I promise.
This was not an easy decision, as you might guess. I had very high hopes for this blog when I first started three-and-a-third years ago. A lot of my first several months were spent documenting what I called my “Congregational Journey,” visiting over a dozen different churches in an attempt to understand the state of the Church in America (or at least my corner of it) today, and maybe possibly find my place in it. (That place turned out to be “outside looking in,” but never mind.) But I also had fun predicting the Academy Awards, following sporting events, watching the Obama inauguration … whatever happened to be going on with me, it made it here in one form or another. For the most part, people seemed to like it, and I eventually developed a shrug for those who didn’t. I was starting to get a real feel for it, I thought — maybe not on the level of a Michael Spencer (requiescat in pace) or Rachel Held Evans, but who knows what the future would hold?
As it turned out, I’m glad I didn’t know. The future was about to do to my life roughly what Hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans, minus the subsequent Super Bowl win.
In August 2009, my son Sean became very ill, almost to death, with what eventually turned out to be Leigh’s disease. Only by the prayers of Christians worldwide did he continue living, and even today the chances of a full recovery are slim. He has not yet recovered the ability to talk — he can make “mmmm” sounds and that’s it — or feed himself, or walk without some assistance. Everything in my family’s life got shaken up by that, as we all have had to pitch in in various ways to take care of his expanded needs. (To think that in July ’09, our biggest worry about Sean was getting him toilet-trained before he started kindergarten …)
Nor was that the end of the trials. My mother — also one of my best friends and biggest supporters — died in November ’09, without leaving behind a will, and I was the only family member willing and able to jump in, clean out her apartment, arrange for her memorial service, tie up all financial loose ends and the like. Meanwhile, my wife’s employer had decided they didn’t need to pay their workers all of their promised salaries, putting us in a bind financially. My daughter was getting bullied at school, despite (or because of) jumping up a grade. My wife’s CMT continued to progress, forcing her eventually to start wearing leg braces. And my own health began to take a dive (likely due to the stress of all of the above), which is an ongoing concern.
Writing is one of those things that seems like a real breeze to someone who doesn’t actually do it, or doesn’t care if they do it well. One of my favorite quotes about writing is from F. Scott Fitzgerald:
I have asked a lot of my emotions – 120 stories. The price was high … because there was one little drop of something, not blood, not a tear, not my seed, but me more intimately than these in every story, it was the extra I had.
With all these stressors in my life, piled one on top of the other and often with little hope of resolution (at least in the short term), I often found myself without any “extra” to give. I had plenty of ideas I wanted to write about — I still do. But I no longer had the emotional energy I needed to write with any regularity. Fitzgerald died at the age of 44, of a massive heart attack (likely exacerbated by alcoholism). I can’t drink alcohol, but I’m 42, seriously overweight (food is my drug of choice), fighting depression, have been diagnosed with chronic tendinosis in my legs, and last year had cataract surgery on both eyes. Makes a man think.
And during a short period of fasting about a week ago, God began showing me what He wanted me to do in the coming month or so:
- finish at least four of the five short stories I’d promised to people (which also includes getting over a pretty massive case of writer’s block)
- read several of the unread books that have been piling up in my office
- return to sorting and mounting in books the thousands of photos my mom left behind
- start visiting churches again, this time primarily to find one I and my family can attend in clear conscience
- get more extensive treatment for my depression and some gastroenterological issues — a situation made more complicated when I found out that my health plan dropped me six months ago and didn’t bother to inform me. (And the hits just keep on coming!)
All this is to clear the decks for what He has for me down the road — and He’s warned me that things are going to get busy in the second half of this year. So something has to give. And one of those things is this here blog — not writing it (’cause, let’s face it, I haven’t been writing much!), but any plans for writing it.
Will I ever come back to it? I dunno. I hope so. But one thing the last few years has taught me is that the future — while bright and full of potential — is also largely unknown. I may be able to predict the Oscars with some accuracy, or make good guesses about presidential races, but I can’t even speculate on what will happen in my own life. God’s in control, but He doesn’t always feel the need to inform me of what He’s doing, or going to do. In fact, He seems to be making a real point of letting me know that He doesn’t. It’d be hilarious if it were happening to someone else.
In short, it’s been a time to let go — of my plans, of hopes, of expectations. And, as of 30 April 2012, of this blog. If you want to keep tabs on me, I recommend contacting me via Facebook (here’s my page). Likewise if you’ve been following Sean’s progress here and want continued updates. Or if you just wanna talk.
Until we meet again, I bid you the peace of God, and wish you well. And maybe I’ll be back here someday, who knows …