John Lees

It wasn’t that long ago that I would never have imagined that so important of a friendship could be struck via the internet. Maybe that’s the way the future will be. That sounds like something that John and I would discuss via our almost daily emails. We talked about what the future would hold as much from a sense or curiosity as the desire to flesh out what had become our joint passion the Twilight Sector Setting.

At first it was odd that someone would buy into something not of their own creation with such passion. But that was a clue revealing the true genius of John. For it was in the perfection of the form not necessarily in its creation which was his special skill and frankly I’m not sure I could imagine any human who could be better at that task.

It was the happy accident of a chance internet encounter that lead to our friendship as well. I only had the pleasure of meeting John in person twice. Both occurred at GenCon, once in 2010 and again in 2011.  It was there I learned much about the man. As much as the internet has extended our reach so that a man in Flint, Michigan and one in Kansas City, Missouri might meet and exchange ideas I believe it is by meeting someone in person that you can take their true measure. It was here that I was introduced to John’s warm nature, quick wit and a palpable intelligence that could not be denied. I’ll be the first to admit that John could be prickly at times. His opinions he held dear but the beauty is that he always approached them with a determined logic. It was often disagreements that lead to our best work.

We were in the midst of just such an occurrence this week shooting emails back and forth discussing how best to approach a design issue. I received his last email at Midnight and by the next morning my colleague and friend was gone. John D. Lees passed away on October the 2nd, 2012. For me the world is a much dimmer place. A man who might have been unknown to many but who is the very embodiment of the best that is tabletop role-playing has left us.

2 thoughts on “John Lees”

  1. I’m very sorry for your loss. I have made a handful of very good friends online through shared interests and creativity. Fortunately I’ve only lost a couple…not in the way you did, but that does not dampen the loss. My sincerest condolences. But you should feel lucky that some of your friend’s last moments were spent with you.

  2. You have my truest sympathy for your loss, and you write of your friend so well that I feel a true loss for never having met him, unless maybe a little on the TML. And I hope you can find the sort of real comfort and reprieve from loss that the following Einstein quote has given me, well too many times. It is getting to be a habit.

    Upon learning of his friend Michele Basso’s death, he wrote: “Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” -March 1956

    Not metaphysics – or maybe it is. Einstein always insisted that we not look at the universe as space and time. It is spacetime. One word. One thing, of four dimensions. Any every single thing (including people) that has ever existed still _does_ exist and will continue to exist. It is only our inability to perceive past, present, and future at once that stops us from seeing that all our loved ones, born and unborn, simply are. We use the dimension of time to measure from ‘before’ to ‘now’ to ‘then’, and measuring time is even more clumsy, imprecise, and wholly inadequate for description and understanding, than our measuring of length, width, and height. If we saw length the same way we see time, then we would not be to tell how long a thing is until the single point we measure from has completely traversed the length from start to end. Then we would know how long it is, but we still would only be able to perceive the infinitesimal fraction of its length that is the point in space we observe it from. But the thing will still be just as long, just as real, and exist just as much as it did whether we were measuring it or not. Indeed, it exists even if it was always on the opposite side of the earth.

    So it is with time, that fourth dimension of spacetime. Every speck of the universe that ever existed simply does exist, regardless of which infinitesimal point in time we try to observe the speck from. And we humans are composed of such specks, just like the rest of the universe. Our dead are still there, as real and complete as ever. It is just us, flying with the arrow of time, who are not in a position to observe them in these moments. But, when the arrow of time stops for us too, as it inevitably does in whatever way for each of us, I wonder…will we then be freed from the limitations we have now? We will then be the fully fourth-dimensional beings we always have been but were always blindered in that fourth dimension? We will then be able to all be with each other, both dead and living?

    I think the answer is Yes, but not to be interpreted too literally. In many ways, poetic, scientific, metaphorical, and whatever other, our “dead” will always be with us and we will always be with them. Emphasis on always. I will raise a glass to John Lee, who I cannot now meet but I think someday we will, and he sounds like a terrific friend and I should be so lucky as to become friends with him.

    How I do babble on. The editor that lives inside me says to delete all this romantical and pseudo-scientific babbling, but instead I’ll let it stand. Stet.

    The only thing wrong with being an atheist is that there’s nobody to talk to during an orgasm.

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