“Your Life School is love,” she said, and then I got big tears in my eyes, those that come without warning and well up and make double everything you’re looking at. There were two of her then, two mouths speaking one set of words, telling me what my hands told her. In these moments after Sarah was told that her School was that of Wisdom, that she was to become the Wise Woman, the Successful Matriarchal Messenger, and I the purest embodiment of unconditional love, the thought dawned on me as though sunrise planted:
We must hear when called upon, there is a reason we are here.
We’re only days into this new year, still wandering a bit aimless after the let-down that is the post-holiday return to some form of normality, the haze that feels a mixture of melancholy and fatigue that confuses us. Shouldn’t we be fresh this soon into the opening of our calendars, new and still smelling of the printer’s ink? Forgetful lot, we humans, misplacing the realization that every day could be the tipping point of a year to come, every hour the beginning of something new, still we carry what we have been carrying all this time, still we’re worn out and worn through from that weight.
Perhaps this exhaustion comes from the burden we just can’t seem to stop toting around, and perhaps this burden is that of our failure to hear that soft whispering voice with enough clarity, our inability to heed it when it bothers to do so. I wrote about this a bit last year in an essay called “When We Are Legend” (and it’s worth a revisit if you’re bored, click through below)
but between the expert hand-analysis so graciously gifted us fromand the realizations that came pouring out after, I decided I needed to address this here, again, in a call-to-action of sorts, for you, for me, for this place. Here’s the deal:
This place, this community I am building here, THIS is why I am here.
I don’t know the why of why this is, I don’t fully understand the mechanisms or machinations or the confluences of events that led me to be here, with all of you, but I know it’s what I am supposed to be doing, and I know I’m supposed to be doing it with you.
I speak often about trying to grow this community into something bigger, I speak of the reasons why it’s worth it to join us, and I fear that often my true motivations are clouded or misunderstood as me trying to make more money doing this, trying to convert more of you from free subscribers to paid ones, trying to justify why I do believe it’s worth the small expense, but I cannot express enough how untrue this is. Here’s the cold hard facts of me running this place, for anyone who wishes to know:
I spend probably 70% of my actual waking life on this Signal Fire. I am not exaggerating, I am not speaking in hyperbole. I spend hours and hours and hours researching, reading, writing, editing, photographing, curating, tweaking, planning, interacting, reading EVERYTHING you all write, every single thing, responding to comments, and pouring every bit of myself into what I give to you. I have just about 8,100 free subscribers, and for that I am eternally grateful. Out of those 8,100 just a fraction under 5% of you have decided to financially support me by either being a month-to-month subscriber, an annual subscription (these are the most helpful for me, as they guarantee a bit of money coming in for a full year), or a Founding Member, and for that, I quite literally owe you all of my gratitude for the food on my table, the bills I’m trying to pay.
When I ask some of you 8,100 to consider pledging your support, I would be lying if I said I didn’t need it, because after these COVID years have completely decimated my wife and I’s “real” job of wedding photography, it has been harder and harder to make ends meet as creatives. But, and this is the most honest and triumphant BUT I can utter out, it’s not the real reason I want more of you here, behind this little paywall, interacting with all of us.
It’s because these connections we’re making, this place I am building here (and those of you who are here already know this to be so abundantly true) is SPECIAL.
The internet has dissolved over the years into a cesspool of vitriol and anger, of finger-pointing and trolling, Twitter to X has turned what was already a sad and often angry place into one of far-right rhetoric and hate speech, Facebook to Meta has killed the Instagram we once knew and loved, making it a petrie dish of influencer culture and people saying or selling shit they don’t even care about to try to stay viral, to try to stay relevant. THIS place, this special place, has been the precise and exact opposite, and I am prouder of helping make it than I am of almost anything I’ve ever done. I heard a voice calling me to bring people together, to bring like-minded Light Chasers from around a planet (did you know this Signal Fire is read in 105 countries!?) into one place far away from algorithms and trolls and give them the ability to share their own writing, their own souls (for all those who just don’t wanna be writers) every single week and know, know, that they will only be greeted with kindness, with support, and with love. Love. That’s what it is in the end, the Life School that Lisa told me I have been fated by the stars and the scars and the lines in my hands to live my life in. Love, unconditional and enduring, and that’s what this place is. To me, and from what I see and hear from all of you, to you too. This is the haven you’ve been seeking, this is the community where everyone feels safe, everyone shares, everyone holds everyone up, and no one ever feels judged. We grow together here, we push each other higher, we pick each other up, and I want this place to be MORE, to be bigger, to hold more of you in the palm of it’s hand.
So this is my voice, asking for your help, which if you know me at all, know it’s a hard fucking thing for me to do. To the 95% of you who read these words each Sunday, the 95% of you who for whatever reason have not yet decided to join us in this community that’s slowly slowly slowly growing, I am asking you to try, to join us, to see that there’s something special here, something worth 14 cents a day to be a part of. This is a club that is only exclusive and behind a little support-wall because it must be, because I literally cannot keep the lights on without some of you deciding that it’s worth a few bucks a month in your life, that maybe, just maybe, you can swap one Starbucks run a month for this place, and in doing so change not only my life, but your own.
There is so much more waiting for you here, and the single greatest benefit is actually something that comes not from me, not some added bonus (though there are a LOT of added bonuses for those who do join us) that I tossed in, but something bigger, something better: The community. There is an entire community of people that act as therapists, editors, support units, hype-people, and most of all Friends. Soon, we’re going to be doing some meet-ups, to finally, FINALLY, change these friendships into flesh and blood ones, and I cannot wait, and I want you all to be there too.
This is why I’m here, and I believe that in some small way, this is why You’re here too. We are called upon by the universe from time to time, to join something bigger than we are, to make things richer with our presence. This place is what it is because of you, because of the voices you lend, because of the eyes and ears you loan me each Sunday, and I believe with my full heart that we’re so desperate for more authentic, good things like this. Some of you have already said it better than I ever could, and I am so grateful for these kind words:
Too easy it’s become to get lost in some echo chamber of doom, too easy to believe there’s no beauty left, no way out of the cycles. This place is the antidote to that, and I believe it’s what I am called to do, and I believe that calling will only grow stronger as this place grows stronger, and I cannot wait to see what it transforms into as it gets bigger and bigger. I cannot wait to see where we’ll all end up.
For now, to all 8100 of you, I just wish to say thank you. To welcome you to another year of Signal Fire, and to tell you that I’m more excited about the essays, the writing prompts, the conversations, the support, the sharing of poetry, videos with Lady G and I, than I ever have been. The lineup for this year is staggering, the essays I’m planning are labors of such intense love, and I truly believe you’ll love them.
We’ve been at this plateau a long while now, and I want this place to go to the next level, and I cannot do that without you. So please, share this place with everyone you can think of, sign them up, buy them gift memberships if you’re able, whatever. And for all you beautiful people just hiding out in that 95% that haven’t joined us yet, now, now is the time. This is the soft whispering, I so very hope you’ll heed it. I promise, it’s worth the investment, I promise, I’ll never stop paying you back for your trust.
Here’s to the year to come, here’s to all of us following the voices that call out to us, whatever that may look like, wherever they may take us. I sure hope some of them take you here. I sure hope.
Hear when called upon
and heed that soft whispering.
This is why you’re here.