“YOU CAN NEVER STEP INTO THE SAME RIVER;
FOR NEW WATERS ARE ALWAYS FLOWING ON TO YOU”
~ Heraclitus of Ephesus
“You’ve gotta go down to the East Village to a place called McSorty’s – you will totally love it!”
That conversation, well over a year ago and months before we moved to NYC has echoed around our apartment every weekend that we haven’t been on the road. But it took us till last Saturday evening to follow our good friends advice and check out the famous (perhaps infamous?) McSorley’s. Knowing that it was a long subway ride south with one train transfer, Marcus opted to leave Garrett at home while we went out exploring.
QUICK HISTORY: McSorley’s has the fine distinction of being the oldest “continually operating saloon” in NYC. It claims patrons from Abraham Lincoln (yes, that one!) to John Lennon. (And from the looks of some of the “dustier” corners I’d say it’s highly likely you can still breathe some of the very same air as honest Abe did!). And to top it off – it wasn’t until 1970 that women were even allowed to enter the place!
Talk about “atmosphere” – it is here in spades! This being New York the place is traditional in that you walk in and it’s long and very narrow –not much room to maneuver, especially when it’s packed on a Saturday night. The décor is very rustic (ie: sticky) and there are remnants of sawdust on the floor. There is of course a long bar that looks like it’s been scratched and gouged for ages (duh – it probably has!), flowing down one side of the room and then a spattering of tables on the other side. The tables are round and made of old (very well worn) wood, about 2 feet in circumference. They are basically lined up along the wall opposite the bar, then jammed in every space imaginable around the tables are wooden (and very creaky) chairs. The walls are completely covered in mismatched items that all are interesting, unique and old looking; photos of notable people, newspaper articles, a playbill from the 1800’s and bit’s of antique knick-knacks are absolutely everywhere.
So we weave our way in, and a man in a short sleeve grey jacket (he SO reminded me of Mark Twain!) saw us approach and, just like an accomplished maestro silently pointed us to a table that was still in the process of being vacated. We took our seats; he came over and simply looked at us, a bit impatiently. Before I could finish asking, “What do you…” he replied. “Light or Dark” That’s it. No menu, not much choice of anything and the place is filled to overflowing with people! Strange – but we were totally loving it!
While soaking up the vibe and savoring the history of the place, I was running my hands across the table saying – can you believe we are sitting where President Lincoln – “ I was interrupted as the conductor – I mean waiter – shoved three guys toward our table and told me to scoot down.
There was something about this guy – he wasn’t brawny or loud … but you just knew to do what he said and do it quickly! So scoot I did and the guys crowded around our table.
We smiled and exchanged “hello’s” and I could immediately tell one of the guys was studying Marcus intently. Now that in itself is a little strange in the city – you walk outside during a snow storm in your bathrobe with a guy jogging around the corner in a two piece bikini and no one even does a double take, but this guy is definitely checking Marcus up and down.
Almost immediately he leans over to Marcus and says, “hey, are you by chance… ” Marc says, “yes” and the guys start smiling and nodding at one another, “I knew it! We heard you speak at the Kappa Sigma Grand Conclave down in San Antonio and man…”
And the fun conversation begins from there. We had a wonderful time and turns out these guys attend a college way south in Brooklyn where, naturally we’ll be going to visit soon. (Strange thing…. I had to turn 40 before I got to meet and hang out with fraternity guys – go figure!)
It was so surreal that we showed up at the exact right time to get seated at the only empty space – and the waiter put these guys at our table… (*side note: I take full credit for the timing because I just HAD to buy a pair of the $3 dollar knitted ear muffs – negotiated down from $5 of course – and then practically shoved Marcus into the plastic hut for the 10 minute Chinese massage by the Asian lady around the corner before we walked around the block to go inside McSorleys !)
Now, I hope you enjoyed this little pic of our East Village experience – but there is something so much more important I walked away with that night, and I really hope you’ll remember this too…
Yes, Marcus shares his story for a living. And it is the BIGGEST honor to be able to have work that is so meaningful and impacts people… but you and I have the same opportunity in our own world – every single day.
You have a story. I know you do. You survived something. You learned something. You have something to share that someone else needs to hear. Today. Everyday.
Now – I’m just gonna tell you straight up – if you go around telling some long drawn out story of “woe is me” ain’t NOBODY gonna wanna piece of that! You know it’s the truth!
And oh my Lord, no, I am not saying everyone needs to write a book or become a speaker! (Heaven help us!)
But someone in your sphere of the world needs YOU – your encouragement, your smile, your willingness to believe in someone, listen to someone, comfort someone, go out on a limb for someone, share with someone, reach out and hug someone – you may be the very best hope they have. Right now.
Your life – your story – who YOU are. Look around today, see who needs you and step up to the plate. It might be a co-worker, a relative, a cashier, maybe it’s even the sullen teenager who who lives in your home, but you feel like you barely know anymore. It could be the neighbor you pass everyday but never really stopped to “see.”
You may never know the impact you have on someone’s life, but I promise, with all my heart, I know this to be true:
An encouraging word is never wasted –
it spins into the atmosphere and whispers softly, repeatedly,
deep inside a person’s very soul when they need it the most.
And who knows, someday years from now, far from home, crammed into a tiny historic saloon you just might have someone say… “hey, aren’t you…. ?”