By Eric Collard
Jon Ruby always seemed to have a problem fitting in. He was adopted at age 2, had a learning disability and grew up in a family of missionaries. He was always trying to prove he was worthy and found church and religion didn’t make sense and was irrelevant to him. So he found another way.
“I used medications in the forms of drugs and alcohol,” explained Ruby.
It’s a classic rebel story, getting into the wrong crowd and wrong substances, leading to a few spirals and a very dark path. 32 years to rock bottom, when he tried to end his life. This was after getting fired, feeling useless and hopeless. He had spent the last two months in a drug-infused fight with himself and life.
“Through that time, everything I had value for, I lost,” admits the always honest Ruby. “I was probably the only guy with a house and two cars living in a homeless shelter. I was confused and I thought I was alone. Through rehab, I realized we all have issues.”
He now spends most of his days helping with a rehab centre he helped start and teaching spiritual fitness (his words, not mine). He compares it to going to gym, and thinks it’s just as important to tackle all of life throws at you.
He started the Ashes to Rubies series where every month he brings together artists, recovering addicts and anyone who wants to participate, in an evening of inspiration. Through art such as spoken word and music, folks share their stories of despair and hope, so someone else can relate to the struggle. And to realize you are not alone.
Through his monthly meetups, he’s trying to shed light on local artists and give a voice to people recovering from addiction, just like he did. He’s 11 years sober but it’s not something he ever wants to take for granted. Our ways of coping with life can catch up to us whether it’s porn, food or drugs.
They sell pizza and branded gear in the hopes of creating a social enterprise, a platform where these talented folks can display and sell their art. It happens every last Thursday of the month at 2 Monk Street in the Glebe.
“The only reason we meet in a church is because they give us good rent.”
It takes place in a church but it’s more of a party than a church-y sermon. And these are dry events, so no booze or drugs.
“I want to share my brokenness with everyone in a safe place,” he admits. “The only reason we meet in a church is because they give us good rent.”
They have a commerce site and also have an Instagram account (@ashestorubies) with a healthy following, where they share inspirational quotes and have real life models with their gear on. You can also get a sneak peek through their latest video.
Jon is a short and stocky powerhouse of a man with an infectious laugh and personality. It’s hard to see him as a depressed addict. It just shows you, you just never know what battles people go through.
He wasn’t always a fan of church and religion, but now it’s taken on a very different meaning for him and his family.
On his own terms.