“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.”
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.