Written by Larissa
Last week, our new friend Ethan came to the studio for the photo shoot portion of the process of sharing his story with 7 Billion Ones, and we had such a great time playing catch with him outside, and sharing how sharing stories have empowered us and so many to go out and change the world, to love people better, and to see each other as the special and wonderful individuals that each of us are. Ethan also shared how he came to know another 7 Billion Ones storyteller - Will - who shared his story on 7 Billion Ones years ago. Like Ethan, Will has alopecia, and upon reading his story, Ethan was so impacted by the common thread they share, that he reached out to Will and they formed a special friendship...uniting on common ground and reminding each other that we are not alone, and that there are others who face the same tough stuff in our lives that we go through...we can stand in solidarity with others and help bring hope and healing to others, just by speaking up and saying, "Me too". What a beautiful connection!!! That is so much for what 7B1 is all about.
Ethan wrote about his experience from the photo shoot and published it on his blog ‘Whispered Writing’ as a part of a resolution and project he calls ‘For Love of the Game - Marking Time with Baseball’ where he plays catch with a baseball and someone different every day of 2018. He takes a picture with whoever he plays catch with and writes a short story about it. Last week was our turn to play catch with Ethan and we were so touched by the thoughtful questions that he asked us and the post he published about our time together on his blog. Check out his blog here and read about our time together in his short story below.
Ethan, thanks for choosing to share your story and for loving people so well. We are so looking forward to sharing your story on 7 Billion Ones soon! Welcome to the 7 Billion Ones family!
'For Love of the Game' - by Ethan Bryan - May 1, 2018 - Day #121
“The name of the movement is also the inspiration. Seven billion ones. We get lost in the bigness of the world, the 7 billion people. As ones, as individuals, we lose sight of how important and special each of us are. This journey is chock full of stories that are there for a reason, that remind us we are here for a reason. These stories need to be shared to inspire, to impact, to live fully, and to heal others.” - Founder Randy Bacon
Mom introduced me to Randy’s work when we moved back to Springfield in 2012. Randy is an award-winning photographer with a studio located in the heart of downtown. As a photographer and filmmaker, Randy has traveled around the world capturing stories that connect and empower people. A couple of years ago, Randy created a new non-profit — 7 Billion Ones — combining photography and story.
“When you get to the core of a person, I really think that people love people. Yet there are so many times we can feel pretty alone. We think we’re the only one living out this story. Seeing and reading other stories becomes this bridge that connect lives. It shows that you are not alone. Each of us are so unique, so special, so important, so necessary. I deeply believe that every story, every individual, every life counts equally. Everyone has a story, they just need an opportunity to share it; that’s why 7 Billion Ones exists, to share those stories.”
Because of 7 Billion Ones, I met Will. Our families went to dinner at Chick-fil-A a couple summers ago and talked about life and baseball and the beautiful joy of being bald. I even wrote a poem about Will and Joel, my two friends who are blessed with perfect hair.
Yellow light ran
red, blue lights flashed
“What’s wrong with this world
is skinheads like you!”
black and white lawman berated.
Tears blinked back.
Bald since 6, beyond my control.
Thirty years later,
I still feel his voice
I still fear
trailing patrol cars.
My simple prayer:
Be brave, boys.
Be kind, Springfield.
I told my story of dinner with Will to Randy and Larissa.
“I call that the ripple effect,” he said with a gentle smile.
I was thrilled for the opportunity to meet and talk with Randy. I was somewhat nervous about the thought of him taking my pictures. The three of us walked to the same field where I played catch with Tim from Hurts Donut Company and talked about movies and TV shows.
Larissa’s favorite movie is Dan in Real Life. At his daughter’s encouragement, Randy finally watched The Office and Parks & Rec. I recommended Eureka to both of them.
I do not think I would make a good model. I am not very comfortable on the front side of a lens; I’m far too self-conscious.
After a few minutes of posed pictures, Larissa stepped away from the lights and played catch with me. That was wonderful. Randy continued to take pictures as we tossed the ball, but at least I had something to do with my hands.
“I think the last time I played catch I was on a softball team in middle school.”
In a field full of the greenest clover, under gray skies and with a strong south wind, we tossed the ball and continued telling stories. It was a perfect spring day.
And then I tried to take a selfie of Larissa and Randy; once again, I felt rather self-conscious.
“We are called to live life day by day. It’s way too easy to think too much about the future and too much about the past. In most respects, we have no control over either. What I’m learning from my story and sharing the stories of others is this day is meant to be magical. No matter what happens during the day, it will be filled with moments of blessing and inspiration. You just have to look for them."
Life is story.