Thursday, January 17, 2008

In Remembrance: Steven Ford Leigh

On January 8, 2008, this New Year opened with the tragic death of a friend of mine. Steven Ford Leigh, 34 years young, lost his life in a car accident. Steve was an amazing person who exemplified the true independent thinker. From our conversations ranging from Aristotle to Zoroaster to our summers running a business of washing windows, cutting grass and trimming hedges to mountain biking through the endless woods to sitting out all night drinking cold beer on the dock of his quiet cottage lake there was no end to this man's creative brilliance and perpetual evolution of consciousness.

Steve was one of those people who polished off degrees in computer science and sociology for "something to do" yet could be equally as fascinated by a video game, a low budget foreign film or a peaceful paddle in a canoe. Steve and I used to sit on the rooftop of his parent's home in the Ottawa suburbs and knock back the pints while laughing at all the zombified working stiffs blobbed out in front of the flickering TV light blasting out from the neighborhood living room windows. It was our way of standing against ever ticking clock of time, adulthood and unchosen responsibility. I'm glad I had the chance to get to know Steve Leigh through our turbulent yet under-stimulated years in high school and fractured years of university and I must admit that he was one of the most fervent advocates of critical and truthful scientific thought I have ever known. I will miss our heated arguments and frustrated laughter shared over the natural human misconceptions of religion and science, God's existence and passionate atheism, the neurophysiology of spiritual experience and the link between altered states of consciousness and a subtler, more translucent reality. I will miss Steve's expositions on ultimate military strategy, political theory and the possibility of time travel.

It wasn't until the "working world" of adulthood became a unconsciously socialized priority in my life that I began to see Steve less and less. We hadn't spoken for about a year and then I heard about his passing. The years I knew Steve were some of the best years of my life but we also went through some of the most fundamentally challenging stages of adolescent growth which can be terrible and cause people to lash out at each other in ways that time will often make you regret. Being a ravenous reader he could tear loopholes in philosophical arguments put together by the "best of them" with a cold RC cola in one hand and typing on a computer keyboard with the other. I have great respect for Steven Leigh as being a profoundly intelligent and highly moral person the likes of which is less than rare. Coming from an amazing family of loving parents and siblings, Steve had an indomitable and incredibly perceptive character that could downsize the fragile ego of a pretentious asshole as well as pinpoint the very things about yourself that were unique, that you might have forgotten, taking you from a state of existential despair to a more hopeful elation. It was good for me to hang out with someone who challenged me to challenge me.

"...and if you wanted to hit the nail on the head, you hit it, and if you wanted to do something unequivocal, you did it."

May you rest in peace Steve