Moe Carrick referred a few folks to me and one of them was her son, Ian. We ended up meeting for this interview at Carol Delmonico’s house, where Ian was housesitting. Within minutes we dove right into deep topics and our entire conversation had a very solemn tone. It’s obvious to me that Ian spends significant time contemplating and is working hard to live in ways that honor his heart and values. We share a sensitive and curious nature and while that has plenty of perks, it also tends to allow for some heaviness - at least that is true for me. These days I don’t encounter too many 25-year-olds, but I can’t help but hope that they are all thinking about the world as actively as Ian is.
Who are you and how would you describe yourself?
(Laughs) I'm Ian Carrick. Ian Daniel Carrick. I am... who am I (laughs)? Yeah, I'm a sensitive and big-hearted young man who tries to practice a way of faith in this crazy world. Or recently tries to do that. I love to sing - I think singing is a really powerful tool for connection and metabolizing emotion. I'm a recovering singer - I got told very early on that I wasn't a singer by some other guys I was playing music with. I'm grateful a lot of the time. And I'm pretty lucky. I'm the recipient of a lot of gifts - of being born where I was and having the education that I have and having the travel experience that I have - lived in Brazil and Indonesia at a pretty young age. Yeah, I'm a musician and a creative person.
Just last night, we had a gig and there was a dinner and they were serving chicken feet. They had harvested a bunch of chickens and so they were kind of encouraging people to eat chicken feet. And I was like, We have to have a chicken feet song. So we (laughs) impromptu made this reggae groove that turned into a song about chicken feet and I woke up with it stuck in my head. And I just felt totally in my element. People really enjoyed it and we made up some funny verses...
What matters to you or what motivates you?
It motivates me to see a room full of people smiling together around a shared thing that's happening. The first I really experienced that I remember or was conscious of it was in Seattle at a contra dance. And I looked around the room and all of a sudden, every single person - grey hair, 12 years old - was smiling to the ears. And I've experienced that most often since then in these singing groups. Yeah, so that's super motivating. And then with the quote unquote performance stuff... that's totally what I'm after is that connection where people are lit up somehow.
What matters to me - I think it's a practice of what I make matter to me. Like, I'm learning how to be a man who has - a person who has - values instead of just going on what feels good. That's a different model for me. Of doing something every time 'cause I need to feel good all the time - which is like sort of a selfish way of going through life - or actually wanting to be of service or have integrity or be vulnerable even when it's not really comfortable, but I have to be honest - that matters to me more and more.
What concerns you or gives you pause or gives you a heavy heart?
I've been really touched - and it's funny saying this living in Bend - just like what the African American and black and Latino experience is in this country. When I let myself feel it, and usually through music - hip hop, in particular, where I can really feel the pain of what some of those people are going through - and at the same time having empathy for my quote unquote brothers who like marching with torches in Charlottesville... I don't let myself feel it too often, but I'm aware and I feel very clear that there are gonna be more and more natural disasters that hopefully are gonna bring people closer together, but I also worry - as we're dealing with floods and fires and these different things that are happening around the country - that the culture clash is gonna make it really difficult to move forward in a good way. Even in August in Portland, both quote unquote sides were throwing firecrackers at each other over some old wounds that this country hasn't really dealt with around what it means to be a slave and what it means to enslave people.
I also care about what I eat - and where the food comes from and where my water comes from - and just try to appreciate that I'm very much dependent on other living beings for my existence and try not to take that for granted. I have a teacher who talks about a science teacher asking a room full of students, How many of you love the Earth? and everybody's hand goes up. How many people feel loved by the Earth? and nobody's hand goes up. That concerns me. It concerns me what I have taken for granted with what sustains me in terms of food and the land that the food comes from, the people that the food comes from. It's kind of a whole side of our culture that we don't really talk about.
What do we mean to each other on an individual basis?
That's a great question. Hmm. Well, the first thing that came to mind is (laughs) being a channel for the divine for each other - like, seeing the divine in you helps me see it in me. And the second thing that came to mind was this whole concept of projection that I'm getting used to. I heard somebody say once in downtown Portland at a 12-step meeting, If I spot it in you, I got it in me. Even in the sauna yesterday, I was noticing a lot of judgment of this one guy - who was himself probably being a little bit judgmental - and, you know, the whole one finger pointing at you, three pointing back at me. I think there's a lot to learn when we can examine that kind of stuff that happens. Like we're mirrors for each other, ideally.
What do we mean to each other individually? I think I'm still figuring that out. I have a teacher who says, We all have medicine. We came in fully-loaded. And so, the work's stripping back all the stuff that we learn and just learning what our medicine is for each other. I'd like to believe that's true. And we all came here with a gift of some kind. I don't know if that's the soul or what, but...
What does it mean to you to be part of community?
I think I'm still figuring that out. For me what comes up is the little things - like remembering people's names, remembering what people are going through - and as much as possible just being able to be present with whoever I'm with. I know I can get into this thing where it's like go, go, go, go, go and then I don't really have time to be in community. I think community is whenever I'm just being somewhere. It could be working or teaching or listening or talking, but just that kind of presence. I have a mentor in Iowa who kind of has this very humble and direct approach to community and she's like, Community's showing up when you say you're gonna show up. It's like answering your phone, checking your voicemail. It's like saying no when you need to say no and saying yes when you need to say yes. And just these little things that really add up. I think community is also letting go sometimes and trusting that there is enough - that the community will hold me. Like yesterday, I was running around and I had lots to take care of and this lady over here started watering the plants, which is sort of my job. And at first I was like, Oh, I'm such a piece of crap! I didn't water the plants! But then I was like, No, she's got my back. It's gonna be okay. We're in this together. But I'm still learning what that is.
I'm really thrown off by the more egregious forms of our being terrible to one another in the minute and the grand scale. I call those things a violation of human rights or social injustice - these are words that trigger people in different ways. In general, why do we treat each other poorly? And what is there actually to do about it? How can you do something about it?
I went to college at Seattle U, which kind of markets itself as this really social justice-oriented thing and since graduating, I've learned that there's actually a shadow side to believing I know what's just and what isn't just. There's a lot of judgment, that I learned, about that from that institution that cut me off from connection with some of the people right next to me - my family was doing wrong. And maybe this has more to do with me, but my fear of being unjust and that the people around me were being unjust cut me off from people - judgmental of friends, of family who were just doing little things that I thought weren't cool. I don't know if that makes sense. The social justice thing, when it throws me into a place where I'm judging others, I have to be really careful of that.
And in terms of what we can do, I mean, it's been said that with sooo many problems going on there's really a lot of opportunity to do a lot of different things. But in terms of what I can actually do - I don't know. There's this parable of two young men who go to meet a tribal elder somewhere to learn his wisdom. And the first time, he turns them down. So, a month later they come back. And he turns them down again. A month later, they come back again and he finally meets with them and says, Listen. Clean your car. Clean your room. When you can take care of those pieces of the Earth, I'll be ready to talk to you about our ways. And that really struck me 'cause I was running around, engaged with [this] and engaged with [that] but then I wasn’t taking care of my physical body, my finances, my relationships. For me, it kind of has to start there, which maybe would frustrate some people.
A lot of the most tangible evidence of injustice that I've seen was from experience living in Indonesia and living with people whose land was being clearcut, basically, for a pulp factory that makes yoga pants. I mean, it's not that simple, but that's where a lot of the pulp was going - to viscose and rayon production. So, I think a lot of times it's like, Where does the money go? Where is the money going? I'm still learning what can be done. I do believe that I change my behavior, not based on what I think, but by how I feel. So, some of my work as a musician and songwriter is helping myself and others get to this place of feeling about the issues. And connecting with it in a heart way makes it real and personal. But in terms of what actually can be done - yeah, it's tricky.
Do you have a sense of purpose?
Increasingly, yeah. I have been really grateful to carry this singing work. It's just oral tradition singing, which is really an ancient thing. My teacher calls it one of the most ancient technologies of belonging that's out there. It feels like such a gift to be able to carry that work and teach the songs. I don't know. It takes people reflecting back to me, again and again, what I'm doing to make me realize that, Oh, I do have these gifts that I'm sharing that matter. And so the past couples years, that's been a huge gift. I think it's an evolving thing, though. Getting people to sing together is good work and it will continue to evolve, you know, and get more specific.
But, honestly, a lot of the work related to recovery is letting go of my idea of how my life should go and just keep doing the next right thing. And that feels almost more important... yeah, just show me what you'd have me be. It's kinda scary to be in that place, but it's also really freeing. 'Cause I used to have this idea of like, I'm gonna do these things and da da da. And maybe there's still a place for that directive energy, but with a little less attachment.
This might be ill-fitting given what you just said, but what do you want more of in your life?
Hmm. I think I want more brotherhood. You know? And that's something I still shy away from 'cause of how I learned to be either in competition or in fear of other men. Yeah, just like dudes that I can hang out with, be playful with, be honest with, talk about things that are going on. And I have that to some extent, but it's just hard; one of my good guy friends - he likes to go see really loud rock shows and smoke cigarettes and, I don't know, some of that stuff I'm not really that into. I think also just having my own space, even if it was like a room where I can feel some ownership in a space. I think a little bit more discipline. I had a drum lesson a couple weeks ago and he said, With any kind of practice, the first 10 minutes are actually the most beneficial. So, if you're gonna practice music for an hour a week, do it six days a week for 10 minutes. And this week I've done my physical therapy every day and it's made such a difference on my shoulder and my hip. Yeah.
Do you want to ask me a question? I'll sit in the hot seat for a minute.
Where is your edge these days? Where is that edge where there's some fear, but you're also really excited about something happening? The growth edge - whatever that means to you.
That's a great question. I guess I'm potentially wrong, but I want to experience some growth and a sense of pride in coming out on the other side of this project having lasted longer than the failure. I want to do it for long enough so that people get it. And I want to have the feeling of having persevered through it. Right now, I'm really unsure. Like, I'm sure when I talk to people that it's so important - that this thing that I spend nearly countless hours on - is valuable. But it's constantly trying to convince people of the value, so it gets really heavy and tiring and disheartening. So, I think it would be growth if I can get through that having convinced people of it and then get to do this work that I think is valuable and get to survive while doing it - that I would consider growth. I would be very excited about that.
There's other heavier answers; I've got edges all over the place. I've got a lot of edges. I'm an edgy guy. And I find sitting here and having these interviews with people to be a really great way to show me those edges - and I don't know if we're talking about edges in the exact same way - but I think I've got a lot of stuff that could be ground down. And I also beat myself up a lot, so I kinda work on those edges often. It's like you said and others who are actively thinking about things - are you paying attention to stuff? I've got plenty of edges and it's just a matter of which ones am I paying attention to and which ones am I not working on and which ones am I proud of having worked on and which ones am I putting off to work on later?