When you’re 11, about as adequate socially as a stripper at a bar mitzvah, and blessed with skills and intelligence that could be certified as ‘strongly average,’ the quest for a peer group might lead you to unexpected places. I could recite pages of the Dungeon Master’s Handbook but was no threat on the soccer field. Yet I was completely unwilling to embrace the moniker of ‘nerd.’ Let’s face it, the Nerds were unwilling to accept me as one of their own. Despite an affinity for some of their practices, I simply wasn’t smart enough.
I wanted to be in a gang.
Unlike our modern interpretations of thug life today, an early 80’s gang concept for a poor white kid was sort of like a diluted version of the Warriors. Basically a social club for bullies that the rest of the world chose to ignore.
Get enough socially inept 11 year-old snot machines together and they’ll form a gang. Sure, a pretend gang, with no fighting, no weapons, and not a real bully in the bunch (in fact quite the opposite), but we had a cool name, we’d draw cool slogans and we’d meet. Ya know… GANG meetings, not just playing with friends, but the serious, mature stuff of talking about what teachers we didn’t like and what girls we did. Finally… a purpose.
Point being, we all need a tribe, and we have a lifetime to learn, or create, our roles in whatever Tribes we participate in.
Our groovy little BodyTribe never stops growing, morphing and expanding, and the ride is an exciting one. Since there are quite a few of you who might be new to our gang, my current initiation will to introduce you to someone special. He is a gentle educator of movement, a wise ambassador of strength, and someone who has such an overabundance of humor and insight that in a discussion about surviving cancer, he replied ‘transformation is a great deal more than mere survival’ (I’m paraphrasing, but not by much).
So if you haven’t met Larry painter yet, now you simply have our words and memories of him to introduce yourselves to, as his corporal self left the poetic (but not entirely accurate) mortal coil just days ago. But when someone inspires me as Larry does (and will), past tense isn’t fitting.
His daughter, Ashley wrote this:
“You will begin to touch heaven, Jonathan, in the moment that you touch perfect speed. And that isn’t flying a thousand miles an hour, or a million, or flying at the speed of light. Because any number is a limit, and perfection doesn’t have limits. Perfect speed, my son, is being there.”
-Richard Bach Jonathan Livingston Seagull
” This was the first book my Dad gave to me to read. I didn’t get it at all then.
Trust me when I say he has finally reached his perfect speed.
A little after 2 AM this morning, Larry Roy Painter took his final breath. His spirit left shortly before that, while I was cuddled up next to him on his hospital bed. I tried to stay awake, but dozed off with my hand on his chest. He fell asleep peacefully several hours before his body stopped. He flew away to new heights. He left on this earth an army of people whose lives are better for knowing him. He taught me that “Love is an act, not just a feeling”. He taught me that lesson by example.
He always told me that his only wish for me was to be happy. Though he will be terribly missed, I promise I will continue to live up to his wish”
Larry… thanks. Our gang still grows, thanks in part to you.