Follow the Light.
It begins as a barely perceptible nudge. The restlessness seeps in. That all-too-familiar whisper creeps into my mind: time to move on, dear. Before the monster of inertia devours you.
Over nine years ago, I began Wish I Were Here to have a place to keep my memories of traveling the planet. I never expected anyone to read it, let alone so many. I have the WordPress editors – Cheri, Ben & Michelle – to thank for introducing me to the vast WordPress community via Freshly Pressed and Discover. Somewhere along the way, they disappeared, as have so many bloggers. Viv, Meg, Van, Doris, Sean, Smilecalm, Stormwise, Patti, and so many others. Patti passed away, but the others vanished without a farewell. Should I do the same, I wondered. I’ve done that more than once in real life. For better or worse. However, I’ve grown to truly care about my readers. You have been my companions, my witnesses, my “others”. More importantly, I can feel that you care about me. This means more to me than I can possibly express.
Nine years. I’ve never stayed in one place for so long, in real life or virtual life, since I left home at seventeen. There’s a fine line between comfort and stagnation. What was once unthinkable has become necessity.
Over the past few months, I’ve read through my archives, deciding which posts will accompany me to the next destination. I’m humbled by the evolution of my writing. Somewhere along the way, I reclaimed my true voice. 205 posts. Did I really experience all of these incredible adventures? How easy it is for memories, no matter how vibrant and intense, to be suffocated by the 9 to 5 world. I struggle, now, with keeping that incredible spark of inspiration alive.
My archives have been safely tucked away into beautiful hardcover books.
I read each comment. All 11,000 of them. About half were my replies. Some of the others were the vague, “great post” variety. However, I feel that most of the messages were sincere. The comments are not able to journey along with me, and it was not easy to let them go. How will it be known how much I was appreciated without comments and likes? But the person who truly needs to know this is myself. And I do. I never expected my words and images to inspire such heartfelt responses. The sharing of epiphanies and memories and gratitude. I finally understood my purpose as a writer and a human being.
As with every move I’ve undertaken in the past, there is risk. Will I be welcome in the new land? I’ve got over 16,000 subscribers here. Will I lose all of them? The reality is that most of them are lapsed bloggers, spammers, bots, or hoping for a follow back. I prefer to have five authentic readers than thousands of superficial numbers. I’m so done with shallow validation. Empty connections. Those who resonate with me will find me. And vice versa. More than ever, we need to find our true tribes. To do that, we must have the courage and integrity to venture into new frontiers. The more I release, the higher I ascend and the further I drift. Into the clouds and forward, softly.
The vast majority of my readers have not made their presence known beyond numbers on the stat counter. I’ve grown fond of the mystery. I’ve also begun to read, in silence, the blogs I follow. I’ve discovered that I enjoy it more. The private contemplation seems to make what I read/listen to/view more powerful.
Over the past year or so, I have felt this shift happening with other bloggers. Rebecca Budd of Tea, Toast, & Trivia recently told me that what I’m doing is simply the next step in the evolution of sharing one’s gifts. For some of us, it’s no longer necessary to know who we are reaching. The important thing is that we put our work out into the universe. Less ego, more heart and soul.
After much reflection, I’ve decided that Substack is the next destination. Their philosophy of valuing nonconformity and treating writers and readers as sovereign adults really resonates with me. They are pioneers of the evolution out of the “attention-based” social media model. And I love the idea of a newsletter – words and images that arrive into a person’s email inbox. It’s as close to a handwritten letter in your mailbox that I can get. There are no likes or comments, but readers are able to respond to the newsletter via email, if they wish. As I mentioned in my previous post, I feel the need to move into deeper realms of silence.
Substack is subscription-based rather than ad-based. In the near future, I will enable paid subscriptions. My writing will remain free for everyone, but those who would like to compensate me will be able to do so. This is way out of my comfort zone, as one of my core issues is accepting generosity. But I’m ready to at least open myself up to it.
Those who wish to continue to lurk have the option of visiting the website: JDRISO.SUBSTACK.COM. My domain, JDRISO.com, will soon be moved there as well. You do not need to have a Substack account to sign up for the newsletter or to read my work on the website. Here’s the link to: Wish I Were Here on Substack. The link will take you directly to the subscribe form.
To those who prefer to part ways here, I thank you for your company over the years. Happiest of trails to you, fellow voyagers.
This will be my last post on WordPress, except for an announcement of my memoir publication. I will self-publish it in 2022.
The path ahead is as obscure as ever, and I will always prefer it this way. I no longer travel to distant lands, but the discoveries are no less profound. Je suis toujours La Vagabonde. May it always be so.