Life, Death, and Unanswerable Questions
To be clear, I didn’t know Logan. I had seen him at least once before, and I had read a guest post or two of his on some of the myriad sf/f themed blogs and sites that I read, but I don’t believe I’ve ever even sat in a panel that he was participating in. Nor had I read any of his books, so it’s a little weird that hearing through my social media stream that he had died struck me the way it did.
Seriously, when I passed him in the hall this last weekend, it took me several seconds to remember why he seemed familiar. His name didn’t come to mind right way.
So why did the news upset me so? Maybe it’s the juxtaposition of how much fun I had at NorWesCon; and how—for me—a good convention experience leaves me feeling a renewed sense of purpose and a new appreciation for what a wonderful, messy, diverse, and strange variety of humans make up what I think of as “my peeps?” Maybe also a little bit of guilt that I could be having such a great time while another human I was (however briefly) sharing space with was apparently in great pain?
Someone who does know Logan personally has written about it: Silence or Violence: Logan, Suicide, and the Culture of Masculine Silence. And I think this part is spot on:
We need to be more compassionate, and more aware that we don’t know what’s going on in one another’s heads and hearts.
We seriously need to STOP MAKING A FUCKING SPORT out of shredding one another in public for fun.
We must stop holding each other to, and stop teaching our children to expect, impossible standards with unhealthy results.
And when someone cries out – regardless of their gender and our thoughts of how they “should” be acting in that time of crisis – we goddamned well should fucking LISTEN. And not make it about ourselves.
I know I’m guilty of failing to listen. All of that socialization about being strong and handling problems makes us say things we think are encouraging, but don’t sound that way to the person who needs a little compassion. If I read a post or an article by someone talking about feeling unattractive or undesirable, my first instinct is to argue with them. If I hear someone lamenting a bad situation, my first instinct is to tell them what I think they ought to be doing (or have already done) to fix the problem.
Instead, our first instinct should be to listen, to ask whether they want anything from us before we start outlining a plan to fix their lives, and offer hugs if we think they’re comfortable with it.
Hugs can’t fix everything. Listening can’t fix everything. But most of the time we don’t need to be fixed, we just need to know we’re not alone.