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Fear, Essence & Aging: Letters from the Barstool

Dear Brad,

Thank you for the champagne. I needed that. Thank you for appreciating me as I prattled on about finding peace through doing good, even if it sounded like a strange mix of fuzzy make-believe, as I shouted my life’s purpose in your ear in the corner of a crowded bar. And of course, you are right. It doesn't matter what we do for a living. I don't like to ask that question and I am not fond of answering it. It seems to reveal little about who we truly are and gives me an uncomfortable feeling like I am being forced to sell you something I don't even own. (Although, I realize it is a common icebreaker for a somewhat shy guy who just bought a stranger a glass of bubbly.)

You confided in me that you are newly separated. Married too young. Our friends on the next barstool are both divorced. Between us, there has been a lot of joy and a lot of disappointment.

I admire how you thought so proudly of aging. I have felt much lighter in my 30s, from the gradual shedding of the masks and the armor we held up around ourselves throughout our youth (some people are still carrying them).

I told you I was reading Fearless by Arianna Huffington, a woman I much admire. And by my third glass of champagne, I pulled out the book and began to read to you my favorite passages, which I had underlined in pen…“We are not on this earth to accumulate victories, things and experiences, but to be whittled and sandpapered until what’s left is who we really are.” And "I both needed and wanted to scare myself. If I wasn't a little frightened of something, I was just coasting through life." And you humored me. You listened and you smiled at me and gave me that “you might be a little crazy, but I think I adore you for it” look that you are not the first to give me.

If it wouldn't be too much to ask, I’d like to have more random bar conversations like this one. I’d like to wake up with a champagne headache thinking about my “essence” while I make coffee on a Saturday morning; scratching my nappy head and mumbling to myself: “Man, what about me shines through?”

For real. Bravo, Brad. Bravo.