Monday, April 8, 2013

A Small Vision...A Huge Impact

I want to write a post about something that happened a few weeks ago, but it's just a vast subject for me I'm not terribly sure where to even begin.  I'm just going to start typing and see what becomes of the gobble of goo in my head.  I feel like essentially this could be two posts...One about a guy and one about my thoughts on suicide.  Maybe it will turn into just that.  We'll see.

About 10 years ago (just a little over frankly but who's relishing?) I found myself single again.  Single with two kids and my parents temporarily moving into my basement.  Despite having two small boys and basically being a single parent, my life was in fact starting over again.  Thankfully I have an amazing best friend who understood my dire need to tag along every other weekend (and sometimes even the odd ones in between too if my parents were feeling kind) with her and her boyfriend in whatever shenanigans they happened to be getting up to.  What initially started out as a way to get out of my head and house turned into amazing friendships with people I probably would not have met otherwise.  

Around the same time one of my most cherished friends returned back from a working/living stint in Los Angeles and with him came an entirely other group of people.  He introduced us to an online world comparative in nature to what Facebook is today.  It was an on-line forum that combined individual blogs as each person had their own moniker and 'page' where they could write down their thoughts, post their pictures and videos, share friends lists, etc.  There was also a chat function connected to our pages that allowed us to instant message our physical and online friends.  This was all when Facebook was still a mere concept for Zuckerberg.  The catch to this online world was that it was only accessible to people with some sort of body modification.  From something as mainstream as a tattoo or piercing to people who did implants, amputations, alterations, and extreme modifications to their own bodies.  This was a community of peers who supported each other in a safe environment and taught us that being different was completely OK.  This environment was created by a man named Shannon Larratt who, like him or don't, changed the world's (or some of it any way) opinion about body mods for the better.  He was a very close friend of my LA friend, thus the connection. 

When I first joined BME it was mainly to keep in touch throughout the week with my weekend friends.  It was cool because in a social setting on a Friday or Saturday night we always had so much fun but I wasn't really getting to know the newish people I was hanging out with. This was a way for me to have more insight into who these people were and why I wanted to associate myself with them.  It was also a way for them to get to know me as a person as well.  I'm always so much better at expressing my feelings in writing than verbally.  I'm a little bummed that I didn't keep a copy of my BME blog/diary from all those years.  I spent an awful lot of time perusing BME and sometimes even commenting on random people's posts and photos.   Again, braver on line than in person I think.  Needless to say these acts lead me to me a large group of people I otherwise would have never met outside the walls of my house and city.  It made the world a much smaller place for me yet bigger at the same time if that makes any sense. I'm sure it does now that most people are on Facebook.  I find Facebook does the same thing for me except I'm less inclined to talk to randoms on Facebook than I was on BME.  See my legal name wasn't on there for all to see.  We had screen names protecting our identities unless we wanted to be made known.  BME was safe to me. 

Anyway, the reason I'm bothering to blog about this time of my life is because if it wasn't for a vision Mr. Larratt (funny since he was only a year or two older than me)saw in his head about how to bring like minded people together I would not have all the friends I have today.  Because of a man I've just heard stories about and only met twice I am the person I am (sort of!).  I am richer because of a stranger; a stranger who magically with the use of science and math linked a whole bunch of us together.   This man passed away a couple of weeks ago.  He was almost 40 years old.  He left behind a wife, a daughter and an amazing legacy.  He has suffered from a degenerative disorder for years now that has cause an enormous amount of pain and suffering for him with no clear end in sight.  After years of suffering and trying to get results, he made the conscious decision to end his own life.  His wife was aware and whether she liked it or not, she supported his decision and agreed to follow through with his wishes of how he wanted to die.  He died like he lived, on his own terms.  You can read his final note to his friends and community here.   There likely won't be a funeral and it's redundant to me, I likely wouldn't have attended because we were not real friends.  But I felt like his impact on my life, so to speak, warrants a moment or several moments of my time.  I feel like without him and his vision my life would be very different, so I wanted the cyber world to know about the influence this man had on others-the ability he had to create a community where people finally felt like they belonged.  He brought so many like minded and unlike minded people together.  He unknowingly taught an entire group of people to be less judgemental and gave us a strong desire to want the world to be less judgemental.  In an unhanded way he handed me an amazing group of friends that I wouldn't have without him. 

Thank you beyond words, Shannon.  I will be forever grateful.  Wherever you are now, Stay Gold. 


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