Small Groupologist Rick Howerton is fond of putting a note of authenticity to what is typically a mundane question when he asks, “How are you doing REALLY?” Recently I had an opportunity to have lunch with a friend I spent some of my high school and all of my college years with. Right away I asked him how he was doing, he said “fine.” There was a pause. The word “really” hung in the air for a moment before he added, “I don’t know. Sometimes I think bad thoughts.”
“Like, ‘I wonder what would happen if I just left.'”
“What do you mean, ‘left’?”
“‘Left’ as in ‘left and never came back.'”
Of course we talked our way through it for a few minutes. He wasn’t serious. At least, wasn’t serious in considering walking out on his life. But what he was saying was how tired of the routines and the mundane of life he has become. This can’t be uncommon in men getting close to 40 or thereabouts. The word my friend used was “trapped.” In an email exchange I had with yet another friend in this demographic I got the following:
“I wake up a lot of days and have the same what I’ll call malaise. It’s like the new day I’m facing is the exact same day I had yesterday and tomorrow doesn’t promise to be much different or better.”
Now that’s just being honest. Who can’t relate to something on the level of Groundhog Day at least for stretches (for me it tends to be Janaury-March). Neither of these men would describe the lives as bad or their families as anything other than a blessing. I’ve known them both for most of my life and can honestly say that I love them. They’re both very successful at what they do. But I do wonder what the sum of these conversations is and what implication it has for the larger culture of today. In what ways have we both robbed ourselves and, perhaps, been robbed of adventure—which would seem to be part of the issue at hand. I saw an article today in another publication about getting men to church and how we need to find a way to get more men to church. Apparently we’ve lost Superman! Until we get to the heart of what’s REALLY going on—until we get honest about recovering our hearts—that will continue to be the question.