“Man, I have to make a phone call on the way home. I’ve been avoiding it for too long.”
He came up to me right after I finished speaking a group of guys last night. I’m a terrible judge of crowd size, but there were 50 or so men in the room.
Ranging in age from freshmen in college to 70+.
One of my best friends in the world organizes this dinner every year. Well he and one of my mentors. It’s called the Beefsteak Banquet.
Sliced beef tenderloin, fries, veggies, bread with a catch. No utensils. Everyone eats with their fingers.
I didn’t know this until I was invited to this dinner, but apparently in the mid-1800’s this used to be a common thing. A celebration. An excuse to get together.
I love that my buddies brought this back to life.
When I got the call, I was hooked at beefsteak. Let alone the opportunity to speak to these guys.
So late afternoon yesterday, I hopped in the car and drove the couple of hours to Columbia to eat steak with my fingers, drink a great glass of whiskey, smoke a cigar and share my story for 20 minutes to these men.
Boiled down to one sentence, here is what I shared with them:
We Need Each Other.
Because I remember sitting in their seat 10-15 years ago listening to some mid-30’s guy thinking — not my family, not my friends, not my marriage, not me.
But life happened over those 10-15 years. Friends got married and divorced. Kids were born and miscarried. Family got promoted and sick. Careers skyrocketed and crashed.
I told them that life is beautiful, precious, worth living fully but also that it’s so hard.
And that we need each other. Desperately.
I asked them to share part of their stories. Many of them strangers, but they felt the urge from the invitation to be authentic.
Hands went up when I asked who has struggled with depression, anxiety, aimlessness, addiction, fear, loneliness, disease, divorce, and a dozen more topics we avoid.
As I said, “my hunch is that outside of rooms like this one, you can go an entire week, month or year without being fully known. Without exposing what makes you sad or hurt. Without being authentic,” I realized quickly I wasn’t speaking to them, I was speaking to myself.
And hopefully I was facilitating a conversation.
A conversation that led to one man saying, “I have to make a phone call on the way home. I’ve been avoiding it too long.”
We need each other.