The Lens Behind You

Everyone walks around with a lens behind them, formed of pressed air, pointing backward, magnifying the past, and objects in it appear closer than they are. Hindsight, people, I swear.

It’s like a funhouse mirror, that lens, warping and exaggerating what was. Don’t be confused. Don’t mistake it for a mirror. What was, was. What you see through that lens is not what is or what is coming. Things that were aren’t anymore and only now is now.

I’m going to glance back, like I sometimes do, like I sometimes have, and even link to some of what I posted this year, but just for a moment, just while the door on 2013 is swinging shut. Then the Closed sign goes in the window and we zip up our coats and we walk away. Because this hindsight bullshit isn’t working. Not today.

Here’s the thing: I feel like I worked pretty hard this year. I released some stories, some essays, some games, and I went to a bunch of conventions and I taught some students and I built some new things and it’s not enough. I can’t work much more than I do, so I have to work better, faster, smarter, and for better pay … or nothing’s going to change. And stuff needs to change. As the year went by, I thought it was going pretty well. Sitting here now, with that warping lens behind me, it looks like all the work I did barely inched me forward. It feels like I’m no closer to the mountain than I was.

I don’t pretend to know what 2014 is going to look like. I don’t know how to get through the wilderness between me and there but I can see the writer, designer, and husband I want to be from here. It’s just that I had a pretty full year … and it wasn’t enough. So I need to find new strength, new wisdom, and new energy to cross the marches ahead. I don’t know where the strength and hours are going to come from yet — and I won’t gripe here about money and dreams — but what else can I do?

Some things exist now that didn’t exist before and that’s not nothing. I hope I’ve brought some fun into your lives and I hope you’ve enjoyed a story or two that I told this year. I thank you for reading what you’ve read and for writing me when you have.

So. That was that. 2013 is a thing that was. And when we leave here, we can never come back to this place. We can only go forward and do better than was done to us.

Onward.

Meditation on Logan Bonner

This post is part of a series about people from whom I am learning. This one’s a remix — I wrote most of this one for a post at Ryan Macklin’s site for his own series:

When I think back, I remember that I met Logan at a hotel-room party a few Gen Cons ago. Logan writes. Logan edits. Logan designs. Logan draws, inks, and colors. Dammit, Logan does it all. One day that guy’ll be standing on the balcony of the house his skills built, and we’ll stand in the foyer raising our glasses to his work and meaning it and he’ll still be all modest, with that straight-backed posture, making a well-timed callback to the night’s first gag and we’ll all laugh and remember that Logan hasn’t changed a bit — he’s still a mensch who does it all. Logan combines a thoughtful nature with a quick wit in a way I find astonishing and confounding. He’s always considerate, taking the time to consider your feelings, but he’s so swift with support, enthusiasm, or a joke that it sort of alarms me to realize how fast his mind must work. From Logan I’m learning how to be funny and incisive without being caustic — because me learning how to do everything Logan does just isn’t feasible. How grateful I am, to have met Logan Bonner.

Meditation on Ryan Macklin

This post is part of a series about people from whom I am learning:

That Ryan Macklin, always striving, thinking, fighting for better. He’s a writer, an editor, a game designer, and more. Ryan taught me to temper and use caution with “be” statements (e.g., “be proactive”) that aren’t supported with concrete examples of how to accomplish or become that behavior. That’s the sort of thing that Ryan does — examine what we’re up to, question how we do things, and draw our attention to why we might want to do things differently. I don’t always agree with Ryan’s assertions, and I fear that some of the battles he fights may take too great a toll on the body and mind of this fellow I admire, but I’m grateful that Ryan’s on the case, hammering his experience and vision into blades and plowshares alike, so we can all cut deeper. Ryan’s always examining himself and his world, looking for the gaps he can fill with new lessons, new learning, new legends. Though his fingers seem sometimes cold and raw and red from the task, and I know his heart aches and brain burns from the toil, Ryan pushes on across the snow, into the wind, sipping from his flask and passing it back for us to warm our insides. Drink up! #icmf

Meditation on Lillian Cohen-Moore

This post is part of a series about people from whom I am learning:

“I fell asleep while doing my breathing treatment,” Lillian wrote on Twitter, “and dreamt @wordwill sent me an email that turned into a box of singing black feathers.” Lillian’s marvelous mind doesn’t operate quite like mine but I have a visceral, immediate appreciation for the way it operates. Lillian, like everyone, is more than one thing — she’s a journalist, editor, gamer, philosopher, more, more, more — and she’s living a varied and exciting life. I hope that calm and respite and simple pleasures don’t lose their sheen compared to her days in security, in danger, in the air above up on the flying trapeze. She’s teaching me things about how I appear from the outside, how we appear from the outside, and how we sometimes hide, sometimes show, sometimes both at once. Lillian shines like a bright new coin; turn it over and marvel at the date on it. Turn it over again and a third surface reveals itself. Turn it, turn it, again and again, and the coin keeps revealing new surfaces, new depths that finally combine when you balance the thing on its edge and spin it. Look, friend, as the myriad coins contained in the one blend together to reveal a single face, animated by the spin: Lillian, smiling and pensive, tasting everything you say and seeing past your surface to the human within.

Meditation on Tony and Renee

This post is part of a series about people from whom I am learning:

My friends Tony and Renee contain secret generators, hidden wellsprings of power, volcano-like depths of astonishing goodness and virtue. Their whole lives hinge on the act of helping people. Strangers, friends, family, and countless students and clients in between — these friends of mine strive and learn and work so they can better improve people’s lives, day by day. Their capacities and devotion astound me. They set a remarkable tone — playful but meaningful — as friends, as coaches, as parents. I think of them as family and I do so with happy pride and a selfish twinge. Watching them, I get a glimpse and glimmer of an idea: How to be friendly and fun without being frivolous. How to do good for the people around me. How to act like a grown up. They’re great.

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