On Monday morning five degrees of separation existed between Susan Ruth and me. Then a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend told Susan about my journey. She called my number, I picked up along the road, and by Monday evening we were sitting in her kitchen discussing humanism and tomorrow. Susan recorded part of our conversation for her podcast, ‘Hey Human,’ (http://www.Heyhumanpodcast.com) I asked her, “How will we live tomorrow?’ We are the 21st century equivalent of people making a life by taking in each other’s laundry. There is no money to be made in reaching out to others and tossing our impressions on the Internet, but Susan and I both believe there is value in the interaction and ripple in the ideas we discuss.
Susan’s an artist and cartoonist (http://www.Vividgallery.org), a podcaster, a self-taught guitar and pianist, vocalist and songwriter with four CD’s to her credit (http://www.Susanruth.com). Reba McEntire covered Ruth’s song, ‘Promise Me Love,’ on her most recent album: an awesome songwriting credit, but not a livelihood. Ruth still has a day job as the office manager for a local architectural firm. She is good at it, but it’s not her passion. “I have friends who have given up their artistic pursuits for more security. I don’t now how to do that. There are diddies and doodles in my head all day long. How can I do anything but what I love to do?”
Susan moved to Nashville four years ago. “It was either here or LA or New York.” Nashville has the advantage of lower cost living. Susan bought a small house last year and fixed it up sweet.
Susan’s first round of podcasts are conversations with a female friend. She started ‘Hey Human’ to draw from a wider audience. “I want to talk to everyone; convicts, hate groups, not just people who agree with me.” In terms of interviewing me, Susan failed in that regard; the two of us turned out to be very simpatico.
Growing up, Susan was fascinated by religion. She attended various churches and eventually studied religion and literature at Western Washington University. ““I’m not religious. I believe in God but He’s not what everyone believes in and I respect that and the individual journey to God or Enlightenment or Science.” She describes herself as a humanist, though her outlook is realistic rather than rosy. “Humans are not content to be. We’re terrified of our feelings, our depression. I don’t have a TV. If I did I would watch it. Why do that? The commercials program us to feel bad about ourselves. I don’t look at the news anymore. I can’t. We’re inundated by the bad stuff.”
Susan quotes a friend with saying, “We’re fat cats, starving.” She illustrates it with the story of a man she observed at a coffee shop. He ordered coffee and a muffin. He sat down, looked at the muffin, and his face revealed conflict about eating it. “I watched his guilt and shame as he ate. He was eating pain. That is why we’re obese. Pain is heavy.”
How will we live tomorrow?
“I’ve been thinking about it all day. We will likely hold our breath for a while. We are trying not to drown. We will likely venture off this rock and find another rock. If we can understand each other – understanding and compassion are the keys – we will find a way to continue.
“I am an alien, not in the science fiction way, but in the sense of being ‘other’. I’m part of something bigger than me, than my community, than this earth.”