RuthAnn Dillon

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After shooting and talking with Rudy, I was reflecting on what she had to say and the project as a whole.  Reflecting on all of the people that it's brought into my life. These people have willingly shared honest and vulnerable parts of themselves with me and ultimately with the world.

I've described this project as being "an exploration and observation on the intricacies of humanity". I never expected to solve the riddle of humanity but Project 104 has served to further complicate my view of us. A beautiful complication. It's served as an example of just how vastly unique and parallel we can be. We humans are truly incredible! 

Someone such as Rudy can open up and share their heart and mind and I will love every second of it. I'll hang on every word and every single bit of information. We'll have had a real human connection. One that has an impact on our lives. Even still, I will have only begun to scratch the surface of who she is. I think that we would all do well to remember just how vast we all are. 

During my time with Rudy, there was a moment that we were sitting on her porch and had taken notice of two caterpillars in the grass. We talked about how insane it is that science still isn't certain how the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly occurs. 

We really like to believe that we have a lot of things figured out. We'd really like to think that we really know people or know someone, but we don't even know how a butterfly becomes a butterfly. Why should we, for a second think that we have anything else figured out? Let alone the vastness of the complexities that we are as individuals. That could be a scary thought but what you have to realize is that it means possibility! It means that there's always room to grow and to learn! That's exciting! 

Rudy, thank you so much for sharing a little bit of yourself. Thank you for being an example of humanity that brings hope and encouragement. Thank you for being you in the world!


Love Aimlessly, My Friends


What gets you out of bed everyday? 

At this point in my life it’s just the excitement of discovery. Asking “What will today bring?!” Especially now, in my current living situation. There’s so much uncovering that’s happening for myself. What am I going to learn today? Who am I going to meet? Everything is very new right now. I’m out of a routine that I was in for a few years. There’s a whole lot more joy in my life. More than there’s ever been before. That’s a big part of waking up. Joy and getting to experience it. 

So many years of my life were just about survival and trying to avoid feeling or experiencing anything. I’m really lucky in that there were a lot of things I probably shouldn’t have survived, and I did, so I also have sense of gratitude getting up in the morning. It’s not there every day. Some days are a lot harder than others. 

I don’t have a lot of lofty goals in my life. I just really enjoy the day-to-day and getting to connect with people and sit down and share a meal with them. That really fulfills me a lot! Simple things make me pretty happy. And learning! There’s just always so much to learn!

I always used to think that I had to figure out who I needed to be or what I needed to be to belong, but the only thing I feel like I know for sure is that I just want to keep learning things so I try to put myself in the way of that. 


To date, what is the greatest lesson you’ve learned? 

That “survival” doesn’t mean identification with the past forever. Maybe true healing means a littler separation from the past. You don’t have to identify with old stories or carry them around. You don’t have to live in fear, once you survive something, that the past is going to return to get you. It’s not lurking around the corner to grab you back. That's something that I’d dealt with for a long time and it was pretty exhausting. 

Also I’ve learned that physical and emotional boundaries are different. I’ve spent a lot of time not speaking to my dad or my brother because I thought that it was healthy for me, but it’s been a great weight on me. I’ve learned that I can engage with them and show love without being pulled into the past or feeling like I am that old person that had to survive living with them. 

In my life right now, that feels like the greatest relief that I can experience! To feel the love that I have for them and know that it doesn’t have to come with the pain. I don’t have to just ignore painful people in my life. I can engage with them an hold some space within my heart and be in a safe place within my own body and not be re-traumatized over and over again. 

The fact the boundaries aren’t black in white seems to be a life-long lesson. I’m sure there will be choppy waters, but I don’t want to have to keep shoving my heart and my body down just to survive.


What is love? 

What I’ve come to believe is that it’s about vulnerability. Imperfection allowing imperfection. Steadfastness through imperfection. Seeing… really seeing someone to the best of your ability. 

There’s a line from a poem I really like;

“Help me to help you. Help me be clear and useful.”

The “help me be clear” thing… The people I love in my life have helped me to be clear so much! 

We have so many sticky attachments to the word ‘love’ that seem to mean so many things. I think love is this intangible, unnamable thing that means absolute faith. Forgiveness. Knowledge that things can change. Knowledge of the fear of that change. 

There’s only a few people in my life that I’ve known long enough to really love truly and deeply, and intimately and emotionally. I’m very scared of being truly known and I will do so many things to control that and to hide and not be vulnerable. The people that come to mind when I think about love are people who have seen me. They've seen me in very bad places and celebrated wonderful things with me. Love is such an interesting human construct… …and I’m totally down to keep chasing it! 

For a long time I thought that if I just stopped… if I just stopped wanting love or needing love... or if I mocked love enough… I could survive. Then I started to care more about being alive and about others in my life and even about romantic love. Now love feels like the big undercurrent that carries me through. 

I still have that angry teenager in my heart sometimes that says “Fuck Love!” It’s a part of me that I have to get to trust and be honest and be honest about wanting and needing love. That’s hard for me to admit, still. 

I don’t know if I really know what love is but I wanna have it. I wanna be able to give it and I hope that I spend the rest of my life figuring out what that means. It’s so scary! It’s like the last great frontier. To be broken-hearted and be okay with it. To be disappointed and forgive. And to be just completely trilled with support and the warmth of being known.


About Rudy :


From Columbia TN

Lives in Nashville, TN

High Garden / Homesteader