I’ve thought a lot recently about connecting with people. Some of this comes from working with technology, but a lot of it comes from two recent deaths. One connected to me through his voice, another connected to me through her words. Both haunt me in weird ways.
Tom Magliozzi was one half of Car Talk (nobody’s sure if he was ‘Click’ or ‘Clack’). Even though Car Talk has been in reruns for years, his voice still echoed through my house on Saturday mornings. Tom and Ray were part of the reason I loved radio, which lead to my time in college radio and podcasting.
Eugie Foster was a friend … a friend I lost over a month ago. To me she was the woman who helped keep Dragon Con informed. To others she was a visionary writer, well respected by her peers. I knew her face and her voice before I read her words. Unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to see her before she passed. I missed her memorial service due to a work trip, so I wasn’t able to be with our friends to celebrate her life or mourn her loss.
Fortunately Tom and Eugie live on in ways other people don’t. Tom left a unique voice, Eugie left beautiful words. They both connected with the world in special ways. Tom gave people a different way to look at the world, Eugie gave us worlds that no one else saw.
The thing that sticks with me after their loss isn’t an inspirational feeling of what can be done, or how one person’s voice impacts the world … it’s a haunting reminder of what hasn’t been done. Tom and Eugie took different paths, but they both pushed their voices into the world. They created things in life that connect people long after their deaths.
I revel in creation and connection, but I don’t do as much of it as I used to. I have folders full of drafts and ideas, projects I’m afraid to start because I may not have time to maintain them. Scripts, outlines, photos, concepts … all boulders waiting to be pushed down a hill. A lot of the problem is my schedule, sending me to the world’s finest convention centers and conferences rooms in the name of employment. I enjoy my job, and love the ability to create and connect as a professional, but everything I want to make doesn’t belong at work.
This hasn’t been an easy year. A lot of good things have happened, but I’ve had to put up with a lot of crap as well. It’s been harder to maintain connections. People I care about have moved away … or moved on … or worse. It’s easy to use my schedule as an excuse to not start a project, or not work on an idea. One of those ideas is a series of interviews with people who create, more focused on the “why” than the “how” of their creative endeavour. Finding people to talk to is easy, since I’m surrounded by insanely creative people. Somewhere in the mythical cloud of Internet data there’s a list of people I want to interview.
Eugie was on that list. I have to take her off that list because of something I didn’t do, not because of something I accomplished. This haunted me as I bounced around the world on various business trips. Eugie’s memory for me is more than a friendly voice or a beautiful smile. Eugie reminds me why it’s important to connect. There’s an entire side to this person that I will never understand, an entire world I will never get to explore.
I haven’t lost site of the fact that my life is pretty damn amazing. I’m in a position to see the world and connect with people in ways that were science fiction less than 100 years ago. But I can’t use that life as an excuse to put part of my life on hold.
People like Tom Magliozzi inspired me to find my voice.
People like Eugie Foster remind me why I need to keep using it.
People like this shouldn’t have to die to motivate me.