On December 1st, I woke up to an email, two text messages and a phone call. They were notifications from different people that one of the men who urged me to be a writer was dead. He committed suicide.
He left behind a lot of people. An entire community. Friends. Family.
There were times where he was a creator. He wrote, he made live action characters look not like a sheet of stats, but a portrayal of a character. Down to the smallest tics. I hadn’t spoken to him for years, for many years. But he’s dead now, and I’ll never speak to him again. We were fiercely at odds, years ago, and I had ceased speaking to him at all. I had long forgotten the sound of his voice and the cadence of his writing.
We will never know what he may have created or played or done in the future, because he took that with him.
In 2013, I have seen what it feels like a floodgate of people talking about their mental health. About taking care of ourselves, and of each other. Panels where people talk about their experiences, urging compassion and love for ourselves and our friends. At a con this year, the concept of creating responsibly came up. That we can’t just burn ourselves up in a moment, because it’s not responsible. To ourselves, or our work, to the people around us. And that hit me really hard. Hit a lot of people in that panel really, really hard. That we cannot depend on mania to be our fuel forever.
That depriving ourselves of food, sleep, comfort or happiness does not make us better creators. It hurts us, and the people around us. It hurts our work. It is playing the game of life in a short term way, and for many, it’s because the expectation of living to play life in a long game seems laughable. We’re not going to be here for that, so we don’t think about learning self-love, about sustainable workloads for ourselves. Creating responsibly means eating, and sleeping, and not chaining ourselves to an unending treadmill on the steepest curve possible. What we do when we blog and write and make art and make new worlds is hard work. And sometimes it sucks. But it’s worth it, right? It’s worth learning how to love ourselves? To try, however imperfectly, to chase light even when it feels like we’ve been in the dark forever?
I’ve seen the Take This project get out in the world, and Live Through This, and while those are not a part of tabletop, not a part of my beat per se, those are projects I’ve already seen touch the lives of people I know in tabletop. Watched G+ posts and tweets and blogs and Facebook status updates honestly, sometimes searingly, show openness and strength as people have begun to be open about their health and their mental health. The year has filled with them, like so many flowers, opening. Chasing the light.
My intent for today was to talk about New Year’s resolutions. About how goal setting is awesome, and it can make us more creative, hardier, happier. That we have to practice compassion and forgiveness, all while pushing ourselves to do well.
But this is what I really had to say. My best suggestion for a 2014 New Year’s resolution is to resolve to live. To live and learn to fail, to make mistakes, and to learn from them in order to make even more amazing things. To love fiercely; both yourself and those around you. To pace yourself. To find help. To make friends. To be committed to yourself and your health, in all its forms. To play life as a long game. To be here, making things, playing games, talking into the late hours. For decades. Many decades. To encourage the people who will make things long after all of our pens and typing and whispered voices have gone still. Please do not go still too soon. You are needed, to make the New Year bright.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.