Strength Beyond Strength: The Midyear Report

In January, we introduced readers to Jason Statts. The response to his story was overwhelming and generated quite the buzz in the world of the extremely extreme. We decided to check in with Jason a half-year later to see how he was doing, and if sharing his story changed anything. He was happy to oblige, and we're happy to publish a follow to Strength Beyond Strength: The Jason Statts Story. June 28th is the fifth anniversary of the shooting that left Statts confined to a wheelchair. We're happy to report that he's better than ever. --jmn ---

Getting shot was one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. That statement probably sounds harsh, but it is close to the truth. So many positive things have come from the shooting, as well as my long recovery. Things that I never would've thought possible; opportunities to make a difference, opportunities for me to better myself in almost every way, new friendships, and even a second chance at love.

My first story for Decibel, Strength Beyond Strength: The Jason Statts Story, turned out to be a gift (thanks, Decibel). I've received so much from it since its initial publication. Many people commented on the actual Deciblog entry, all positively. Many of the same people found me on Facebook and/or Twitter and have since become friends. It is difficult to believe that it was six months ago.

So much has happened in that span of time. I've gone from a guy with an unnoticed blog to a guy who writes for four well-respected sites/webzines: About.com Heavy Metal (US), Echoes and Dust (UK), CVLT Nation (US), and LOUD! Magazine (Portugal). I have done 35 to 40 album reviews so far, a couple of interviews, and some in-depth coverage of records that had a major impact on my life. I've started my own company for illustration, design, publishing, and music called Black Abyssal. Together with two new (but now very close) friends, I started a webzine devoted solely to underground metal called Violent Resonance (the site is under construction as I write this; it will be a great thing once it is up and running).

Last but definitely not least, John Baizley of Baroness asked me to do a collaborative art project that may or may not eventually become a t-shirt design. Nuts. Things have kind of blown up around me since the story was published. Life seems to be moving very fast, not that I'm complaining. It all seems to be headed in the right direction; the universe is unfolding as it should.

In fact, it seems to be going the way it should have gone 15 years ago. I'm doing more of what I want to do, and having a blast. I finally know what it is like to "do what you love." It’s a great feeling. Once again, and quite literally, music has saved my life. As far as I'm concerned, things couldn't get much better.

I also met an amazing girl. She sees past the chair. She read my story, was touched, and wrote me one of the sweetest, most endearing, most genuine letters I have ever read. I was completely blown away by what this person had to say to me; this total stranger. The strange part is that I never would have even known she existed had I not been shot and paralyzed. Out of six billion people, I met her. How insane is that? We have so much in common that I fear that we are the same person; split somehow over time and space. We are completely compatible on every level. She likes me for who I am, and vice versa. That, in itself, is an amazing feeling. She is brilliant. She is beautiful. She is far away, but that can be remedied.

A lot of people have written me about my situation. Most everyone has been extremely supportive and I appreciate every single person who has taken the time to offer me some sort of hope and/or happiness. This message went straight into my heart and has been there ever since.

All in all, the past six months have been an amazing experience. Doors have opened. Friendships and businesses have been built. I have a new relationship with the music I love, and the beginnings of a relationship with a new girl. Time has flown. If things keep moving at their current rate, I expect the next six months will go by just as quickly. Again, I'm not complaining. I am enjoying every busy second.

Thanks to everyone for giving me a chance to prove myself over the past few months. Appreciation doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the thanks I'd like to give. Thanks to all the Decibel readers as well. None of this would've been possible without all your support and kind words. If you're ever in Savannah, give me a shout.

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