For the last ten days, this blog has been quiet and mostly been about the late great Thomas Peake. On Tuesday I went to the memorial service in Atlanta, where I saw a lot of old friends I haven’t seen in years (or in some cases, decades) and met many other friends of Thomas for the first time. I was expecting a big turnout filled with lots of people I didn’t know but it was beyond my craziest estimate. This little space had 400 people in it in a Tuesday evening in Inman Park. His friends reached so far that he had entire subgroups of friends that all knew each other that I had no conception he knew. He was a guy who lived his life as if people were the most important thing in it, and people responded in kind.
Chris Campbell passed out fliers for our Peakecast project in an effort to round up audio people might have, and after the ceremony and reception I had a little bit of pizza with Chris and Sharon at the Fellini’s in Candler Park. I had heard from them that some of Thomas’ friends were getting together at The Local, which was approximately on the way back to my hotel anyway. I figured “what the hell, why not stop by?”
I walked around in The Local and I saw people I recognized from the service but no one that I knew personally. My initial inclination was to get back in the rental car and leave but that didn’t seem the right thing to do for the occasion so I approached a table with an empty chair and said “I don’t know any of you, but can I sit with you?” I did, and we talked about Thomas and told crazy anecdotes and it was good. I’m glad I did it. As time went on, a few people from other groups around the bar came over and talked to me and said they had read my blog posts and found them helpful.
This floored me because I didn’t quite follow the chain of events that would make that possible. I guess they recognized me from the Facebook profile photo and connected that with my links from the memorial page. I personally probably couldn’t have done that to anyone else so it shocked me that others could to me. I had a hard enough time connecting people I spent 5 minutes talking to with their Facebook photo. I’m glad people that I don’t even know were able to find some value and some comfort in my writings about Thomas and even more glad they were willing to approach me and discuss it. I’m trying to do more of that, because its the way Mr. Peake lived and the world could use a little more of that.
I thank everyone for being patient with me. Most of my blogging, Twittering et al for the last week and a half has been about this guy and his loss even though I know most of the people in my sphere didn’t know him. I’m going to turn down that proportion but it will never go to zero. I just won’t invoke his name so much because it will be part of my new baseline. I’m not going to say “I do this because Thomas Peake would” about things but it will be true and a part of the new me, the kinder more generous me. I think it will take all 400 people who were at the Trolley Barn and all of the thousands more affected by this loss, each of us to be more kind, more respectful, more generous and more goofy to replace what the world lost in Thomas Peake. We don’t want to have to but we do, and because we are strong and want to honor the man we will. The torch has fallen, and we pick it up and light more and from this tragedy we build better communities and a better world because that’s the only thing that makes sense. Do it for Thomas. I love you, Thomas. Goodbye.