By Trace 15 Comments
Where do we go from here?
It's a question that’s been echoing through my head as I'm trying to digest today's horrible news. I don't think I have any clear thoughts on the matter, nor do I think I'll ever have anything insightful to contribute over the loss of Ryan Davis. It just feels necessary to say something, lest these feelings continue to leave me staring bewildered at a monitor in a state of inaction, attempting to have deep thoughts over a situation lacking any satisfying answers.
I barely knew Ryan. Yes, moderators have received special treatment at the last few PAX Easts, but most of my time has been spent talking to guys like Drew, Jeff, Alex, and Patrick. I thanked Ryan once for a great panel, maybe I've thrown a remark his direction here and there, and maybe my hands formed uprights in the middle rows at a PAX Prime panel, dogging him on to throw a paper airplane my direction. It missed terribly, and the natural reaction was a shrug and shake of the head, as if to say, "C'mon, you knew that wasn't going to work." To attempt to stake a claim in some personal connection that was any less than distant would be to lie. This does not diminish his loss.
Yes, his work had a huge impact on me. You can't practically live on this site like I did in the time after quests and before I got a full-time job and not be affected by what Ryan contributed. If anything, it made me want what the staff had even more. Shame the sort of personality that anchors videostreams, guides podcasts, and builds the voice of a website isn't something that can be gained through a little training and hard work. When that voice goes away, no matter the reason, a vacuum is forever created, and in its wake, hard questions about a future appear.
Where do we go from here?
I barely knew him, but Ryan's passing strikes into reality, chipping away at uncomfortable topics I try to avoid. The few that know me on a rather personal level know that I consider the first 25 years of my life an aimless waste of time, thanks to misdirected life ambitions and crippling social anxieties that still affect my decisions and mistakes today. I'm on a better path now, one where I will eventually gain the ability to take full control of my life and future. I may never reach my dreams, but I'm finally at a point where the opportunities could potentially exist in some semblance of reality. Shame it's with ten years of flailing, but that's self-loathing and bygones that should never have a place in words, much less a blog.
Death is a great reminder of the fragility in waiting, the risk in patience, and how it can tear us away from our lives just as quickly as a mistake in impatience.
I’m only five years younger than Ryan. That hits me at an awkward level, but mainly in terms of how much he accomplished and how little I have. The narrow age differential isn't as harrowing as I thought, since I've seen how quickly death can strike any of us before.
I used to work bookkeeping at a race shop. We'll leave the specifics at that, since everything else is a little personal. One of the owners had a beautiful little girl, and she was an absolutely intelligent and highly creative gem. A shooting star of energy, since she always had some major project or goal to work on.
She died in the span of a morning from a sudden viral infection that closed off her airways. Nothing could have prevented this or saved her life, either beforehand or when she was dying, as I would later learn. It was just a sudden death, random, frightening, and unsettling. I barely knew her, but I knew her family, and to see that much potential ripped away from the world brought me to tears during a funeral I had barely any right to attend.
Ryan had his glory, and there’s no doubt that he affected the world greatly with his tremendous personality. It was still too soon. A common thread in numerous writings, be it self-motivation or Tuesdays with a dying man, is the notion of how we’d act if we knew our last days were upon us, how we’d treat those we love and care about, and how we’d focus our lives on what truly matters to us. It doesn’t make the sudden tear, the sudden removal of life from whence it once abounded any easier to take.
I’m not even sure how PAX Prime is going to feel this year, much less PAX East next year, or even GenCon in a few scant weeks. These are the few chances I get to see actual friends in person, and I imagine the next few meetings will have their moments of legitimate sorrow and coping from feelings still bottled up over this loss. No amount of drinking, Top Gear, Uniracers, or motherfuckin' Pooyan can change that.
Determination in life can change, though, and if anything comes from this, maybe it should be a reminder, at least for myself if not others, to strike out and reach out for what’s truly enjoyable. There’s plenty of time for video games, sure, but there's a renewed interest in making sure that the remainder of my life is not spent in regret as I work in areas incapable of fostering passion. Never forget those fucking dreams.
So where do we go from here? What happens now?