The Blue Mountain Review personal interview with Clayton H. Ramsey
What makes "you"- You?
There are things that I do—that we all do—that are not particularly exciting:
sleeping, eating, exercising, paying bills, running errands. They are boring facts, but I think those things can be almost sacred if considered from the right perspective. A monk named Brother Lawrence wrote about “practicing the presence of God” as he washed dishes in a seventeenth-century monastery, and I try very hard to adopt his perspective, not to get lost in the details of life, but see them from a viewpoint of gratitude and higher meaning. Beyond these mundane happenings, or perhaps because of them, there seem to be some thematic regularities. At this point in my life there are three rubrics that tend to organize my thoughts and my efforts, three themes that have been a part of the core of my personality for almost my entire life. They are: science, literature, and for lack of a stronger word, spirituality. I have studied each as a discipline, and my thoughts tend to circulate around one or all of them at any given time.
I love the regularity of science, the fact that we live in a world that can be
systematically studied and understood according to patterns and laws. The human body, the dance of galaxies, the counterintuitive reality of the subatomic world are all beautiful and mysterious and magnificent.
I also love literature, the music of language, the power of story, the depths of the human spirit that can be expressed and explored. C.S. Lewis said he had yet to find a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to satisfy him. I have to agree with Professor Lewis. I love falling into books and finding a life there I couldn’t have imagined before I started the first page. My reading habit led to a writing habit as I wanted to share the magic of words that I had learned to love as a child with others, to add my own voice to the conversation of the ages, to join the celebration of life and humanity that all writers seemed to share.
And finally I tend to look at my life and my broader involvement in the world from a spiritual perspective. I almost hesitate to say that, not out of shame, but rather because of the imprecision of the word. It has been used to justify all sorts of nonsense, ambiguity, and even villainy over the years. But I mean it in the highest sense that we are essentially spiritual beings that happen to be borrowing a body for a few years, personal essences that are meant for something higher and deeper than just getting to the end of the day to sleep before another one begins. St. Augustine’s prayer at the beginning of his Confessions, “Lord, You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You,” is one of my favorite lines among the ancient writers. We were meant for more. We were meant for fulfillment, not in cash or fancy degrees or flashy careers, but in God. I grew up in the church and like most, I still find myself on an ongoing spiritual journey. Because of my background and sense of my own identity, I tend to see things through the Christian tradition, but because of my education and wide experiences I also respect and can utilize the wisdom of other practices to live a more purposeful and intentional life.
I love to run, hike, play squash, watch old movies, travel and have new experiences, but this triad of science, literature and spirituality best describes me now and I suspect always will.
What is a question(s) you'd never like to be asked again as long as you live?
Maybe it’s this one. Of course no one wants to be asked, “Is that your real hair?”
“Do you know where that smell is coming from?” or “Are you ever going to finish your book?” But perhaps mine would be, “Why are you so quiet?” Introverted writers will know what I’m talking about. A rich inner life is important for a writer, but the world loves extroverts and doesn’t always understand those of us who would rather listen than speak, read than go to cocktail parties, and write more than anything else at all.
Read the full interview at The Blue Mountain Review