Last night I participated in a time-honored ritual that dates back thousands of years, one I have participated in since the young age of eighteen. A lifelong friend joined me on my patio where we enjoyed Cuban cigars (purchased during my recent trip to Spain) and Indigeny brandy.
This ritual, performed by many tribes through millennia, has been critical to my personal development. As a young man, I would sit with contemporaries, and sometimes with mentors, as we shared the intimate details of our lives over cigars. It was during this ritual that I would discover the problems that troubled my friends. It’s where I learned I was not alone, that the struggles I felt—to find a meaningful career, discover love (or recover from rejection), define my life’s purpose—were also felt by my contemporaries. And now, as I recreate this ritual in my middle age, sharing and laughing at the embarrassing stories of raising kids, running a business, and dating, I find continued relief in the universal themes shared with my friends. My mistakes, while they may be mine, are not unique. My foibles are shared with many men just like me, all across the nation, and I suspect, to an extent, throughout time.
November is Men’s Health Month. Perhaps you have heard of