June 9, 2019

Is There Anybody Listening?

I’m staring a new ritual. 

I want to write for at least 30 minutes a day. 

This is going to be my new blog.  Simply journal entries that may or may not lead to something bigger.  I might not post every day 30 minutes might not be long enough to write a complete a thought.  But I will at least try to write every day and post whenever I have something coherent to upload.   

I’ve attempted to journal several times in the past.  Sometimes in the form of a handwritten notebook other times in typeset form. 

I have also blogged before, as this space is a testament but over the past several months (years) I’ve gotten away from it.  Through a series of events, heart aches, mental blocks and physical needs I simply stopped writing. 

I think it started shortly after I published my second book “Meekoethics – What Happens When Life Get’s Messy and the Rules Aren’t Enough.”  My business was taking more and more of my time and attention.  I was growing frustrated with the slow pace of growth and I simply had no desire (or knowledge, or ability, or whatever) to promote my writing.  I sold exactly zero copies of Meekoethics in the months immediately following its release and I also noticed a marked reduction in the amount of reader engagement I was getting on the blog. 

Is there anybody listing? 

I slowly and reluctantly came to the conclusion that; no, no one was in fact listening.  In an attempt to revive things, I redesigned the blog, jazzed up the visuals, built a fancy new website and even tried my hand a video blogging, but none of it worked, the engagement was gone, and my heart wasn’t in it. 

So, I stopped writing. 

Blogs it seems are passe.  Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (and probably a hundred other platforms that I’m too out of touch to know anything about) have killed the long form blog.  And that’s a shame because it’s nearly impossible to get a complex idea across in only a few characters.  We’re living in a soundbite world, our thirst for knowledge has been reduced to shot glass sized gulps of whatever the news media or celebrities can dish out.  And our attention span has gone with it.  Maybe that’s why we have a TV personality for a president and our political discourse has been reduced to hashtags and name calling.  (#frustrating)

I can tell you this; if you’ve read this far, you’re a rarity in the online community and you’re my kind of people.  Stick around and we might actually have some fun, figure out a thing or two and maybe even influence the world together. 

But that’s not really why I started writing again. There is a bigger issue that I’m wrestling with lately, one that’s admittedly both more and less selfish. 

When I stopped writing I seem to have lost a piece of myself.  You see, if I’m being honest, I have to admit that never really wanted to write for an audience anyway. 

I started journaling for the first time when I was in my late teens as a way to organize my thoughts, make sense of the world and talk to God.  Journaling for me has always been a form of prayer.  I started posting my journal entries on-line way back in 2008 on a whim and suddenly found that other people were interested in what I had to say.  I kept doing it and before I knew it my journal/prayer life had over 100 regular readers all over the world. 

When I started to notice a trends in my writing around questions of economics and theology, I used it as a stepping-stone to my first book; “Meekonomics – How to Inherit the Earth and Live Life to the Fullest in God’s Economy”.  That book led in rapid succession to a short personal finance guide “Six Steps to Financial Freedom – The Meekonomist’s Guide to Getting out of Debt, Building Wealth and Leaving a Legacy.”, and the aforementioned “Meekoethics”. 

Then I started to lose my voice.  (My writing voice that is, I never lost my ability to talk).  The lack of engagement I noticed on the blog and my inability to promote my writing started to take a tole.  I tried to write a book on leadership but after a few false starts had to face up the fact that I’ve never led anything and know next to nothing about the topic. 

And then I just started to get depressed and stopped writing altogether.

I know realize that because writing for me was never really about the audience I lost something else when I stopped.  I lost my connection to God.  In a sense, when I stopped writing I stopped praying.

Well – not exactly. 

But my prayer life did change.  Now instead of pouring out my thoughts in a prayerful written format all I could do was sit, think and listen.  

Don’t get me wrong, that type of prayerful meditation was helpful, for a season.  It helped me remain connected to God in a way that I hadn’t experienced until then and it helped me learn a whole new way of communication.  It kept me grounded and prevented my depression from running so deep that it consumed me. 

But it wasn’t the same.  I’m a writer.  I learn, grow, organize and make sense of the world by writing stuff down.  The physical, tactile connection between my mind and my body that writing brings out is essential to my way of thinking, learning and communicating. 

As I started to figure that out, I did what I have always done – I wrote it down, but I stopped sharing it. 

My latest work is a short book on prayer that I have called “Prayer School – A Contemplative Guide to the Lord’s Prayer”.  I wasn’t going to publish it at first.  I had just planned to let what I had learned through writing remain between me and God. 

But then something strange happened, Amazon sent me a cheque for royalties from the sales of my first three books.

Suddenly I felt like a real writer again.  Some people, somewhere, have read my work and thought enough of it to plunk down their hard-earned cash to own a copy of something I wrote.  My secret hope in making my writing publicly available has always been that somehow God would use my prayers to help other people and when I got that first cheque it was as if God said, “Yup, people are listening”.  (“Yup” is in the Hebrew, look it up…)

That’s why I published “Prayer School” and that’s why I am returning again to a daily ritual of writing my thoughts.  It’s always been how I pray, think and learn. 

I still have a lot to say, questions that I want to find answers to.  I have ideas for several more books, seminars, and videos.  I never want to write for my ego.  I never want to get depressed over a lack of engagement.  I don’t want to measure my worth by the number of likes I get on social media or the size of my royalty cheques. 

It’s not supposed to be about me.  At the end of the day it’s still just meant to between me and God.  You’re invited to eavesdrop on my prayer life.

So welcome back to my blog.  It’s just me and my thoughts, prayers and questions.  If you have anything to add, feel free, that’s what the comments section is for.  If not, that’s okay too because the only one who’s listening, the only one that matters at least, is God. 

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