Thanks for the very kind introduction, Lynn. I hope I can live up to it. Something tells me I will.
I woke up this morning in a cave. That’s not a joke. I woke up this morning in a cave with stalactites and stalagmites all around me. And don’t bother trying to give me some handy mnemonic device to help me remember which is on the ground and which is up there hanging from the ceiling. I’m hopeless. I’ll never remember it. Anyway, THE CAVE.
Some scary spiders. A few bats. Swimming in one of the cave pools a few of those fish that’ve adapted away from eyes, so now they just have two light sensitive spots on the front of their heads. I’m dimly aware of all of this. I pull out my phone—trust me, I’m never without it; I see you nodding, you guys know what I mean—and I click the home button—I see a number of you are familiar with the home button—and I look around. Lying next to me on the floor is a bear. And no, it’s not my wife before she’s had her coffee—I can tell by your laughter that some of you guys know what I’m talking about. But seriously, I think my wife and I are actually addicted to coffee. I wish we could just get an IV drip of the stuff—looking around I see that a number of you actually have IV coffee drips. Gives a new meaning to “drip” coffee. Due to the luke-warm response to that joke I can see that a number of have already heard it, because normally it kills.
So it turns out that I’ve just regained consciousness in a cave, with a bear, and I’m freaking out a little bit. You know what I mean, ladies? And here I just want to talk to the ladies:
A lot of times men want to put up a big front about being able to handle any situation, but the fact is we freak out too. Not as much as women, not as often. We don’t put on Maroon 5 and have a good cry on the way to spin class every morning, the way my wife does. But we do freak out. For me the trigger is being trapped in a remote location with an enormous wild animal right next to me, no memory of how I got there. So, yeah, I’m a little bit concerned, I guess you could say.
Now I’m going to speak to just the men:
Before, when I was just speaking to the ladies, I assume you couldn’t hear me, so I’ll give you a quick summary: ladies be freaking out, but dudes, we be freaking out too sometimes. Of course, we dudes don’t be freaking out sometimes. I know that, you know that, the pope in Rome knows that. I told them that to build a sense of security for them. Now I’m going to speak to the ladies again, and give them a line of crap about what I was telling you guys over here.
Now I’m going to speak just to the ladies:
I was letting the dudes know what I told you over here, but then I tried to also build them up a little bit, stroke their egos, and say that men don’t freak out, that freaking out is the exclusive purview of women. Was it the right thing to do? The jury’s out on that. It’s hard to say. And I don’t know if I can make the call. I woke up this morning in a cave, with weird fish and a bear, so I’m a little out of sorts. I’m sure you’ve all been there. And I’m feeling like I could just kick back with a couple cosmos and watch a House Hunter’s Marathon.
Now the dudes:
I’m pretending to be cool and vulnerable with them, but what I really want is a cold brew and the game. But I’m not gonna tell them that.
Now the senoritas:
Just more male posturing. Men really are kind of weak and, contrary to gender norms, it’s women who can be very strong, isn’t it?
I can lift two cars over my head at the same time. But they have to be Kias. Only kidding. Ford tough.
Okay, now I’d like to talk to everyone at the same time:
I woke up this morning, in a cave, next to a bear, a little concerned. And the bear is starting to wake up. It’s starting to shift a little, and I can see that the bear is going to wake up. And I see that in one of its paws . . . the bear is holding a gun. And I’m still a little skeeved out by those weird eyeless fish, not to mention the scary spiders. And I’m wracking my brain trying to remember about the stalactites and the stalagmites . . . yada, yada, yada. Things couldn’t get much worse.
But I remembered that I had this today. That we were going to be meeting up here. And I pictured you people in my mind’s eye. And I held that thought, because that’s what gets me going. That’s what helps me face the day and all its troubles. Today, everyone out there, everyone in this beautiful convention center, everyone’s here because they feel like something’s missing. Maybe you used to have that thing that got you going, and you lost it. Maybe you never found it. But I knew that I needed to bring something back with me, to show you what’s possible. Whatever you’re facing, it’s possible to take a deep breath, look at your problem, grab it by the ears, and just twist its head right off.
I wanted to bring back the head of that bear for you. And here it is. I want all of you now, form a single-file line, to come up and stare this bear’s head in its glassy, sightless eyes, and tell it that it won’t beat you. Tell it that change is possible. And then, and you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to, you can dip your finger in some of the pooling blood—it’s still warm; I mean this is a very fresh kill—and just paint a bit under each eye. And then you’ll go through the rest of your day with bear blood on your face. Nothing can stop you. You can have it all. If anyone asks what it is, you can tell them, “It’s bear blood, and I am a force of nature. So you better look out, because a new age is coming. And it’s the age of me living my truest life.”
Mostly people end up saying that to the manager at the Golden Corral, or wherever you people eat after this, but it’s just the first step in walking a new path. And you’re going to get exactly where you’re going.
Tomorrow, when you wake up next to whatever your “bear” is, just remember—pull sharp and twist as hard as you can, because you do not get a second chance.