Ursula K. Le Guin
“The speaking of her name and of her words goes on, and will go on, today and tomorrow and for a very long time now. As it should. She was the mother of so many of us, and you should take time to mourn your mother.”
Like so many others, I felt a true loss upon learning of Ursula K. Le Guin’s death. And I feel a strong pull to “speak of her name and of her words.” I’m not a famous writer. I never met Ms. Le Guin, so I have no special stories to share. I only want to speak her name and talk for a minute about her words.
I first read her words when I was too young to truly understand them. Perhaps junior high or early high school. But while I missed much of the depth of her wonderful stories, I did appreciate them. Not just the poetry of them, though that wonder was there. No, what I felt in those words was power and recognition.
Her power was that of a mother, as John Scalzi so appropriately said. Here was a woman writing about nurture and honesty and respect. She wrote stories that fed us and opened us and shamed us. She showed us how to be True People, and she did it in the firmest, gentlest way. She was not a mother you could ignore, or talk back to, or argue with. She spoke with the authority of wisdom.
She was one of the first female writers I read who did that.
And I recognized myself in her words. Her stories were worlds I knew in my soul. I never knew her, and she certainly never knew me, but we were kindred spirits. Her worlds showed me how we could live honest lives, and that it was possible for a society to respect the Earth.
More recently, her words – in countless blog posts and articles – often gave me hope as she wrote about the nightmares of our world today. She had a way of laying a perspective on things we couldn’t control. If she was angry, she said so. If she despaired, she showed us why. If she had a solution, she described it. She reminded us that women were strong and good, and that we had a job to do in this world. She insisted that men were good, too, but not better than women. Equal. She never lost sight of the fact that we are all in this together.
And she never gave up on us.
I will miss her.