In the years immediately following college I found myself working in lower Manhattan - for the first time free to be an adult, free to hold myself to my own standards and free to choose how to use my time (when I was not in the office). And so it became that a small group of us, feeling quite frisky with this new found freedom, formed the Chambers St. Dinner Club. The “Dinner Club” was far from formal, met once a month in China town (we were allowed to bring in our own beer for dinner, yea baby!) and we sat at one of the big round, lazy Susan enabled tables for loads of dumplings, noodles, Szechuan cuisine and hours and hours of extensive dialogue. Because you see, the key attribute of the Dinner Club was the conversation that we had each and every time. We had a few rules – we could talk about any idea, belief, perspective, or similar intellectual topic but we banned any conversation about other people and things. The essence of the rule was to cause us to break out of the mundane, to stimulate the mind and to create a forum for verbal jousting, and intellectual agreement or disagreement. The Dinner Club held together for quite a few years till jobs and lives diverged enough that there were only a few of us left. And so there was that point, as there seems to be in much of life, that you close the chapter of the book and set out to write the next one.
Years have gone by and to my amazement the lessons and experiences from the Dinner Club live vibrantly in my head and my heart. Here is the Cliff Notes version:
- Intellectual jousting is fun.
- We knew, that with a foundation of respect all could be discussed.
- Disagreement and dialogue are normal when you debate ideas and rarely was agreement gained - interestingly, no guns were ever drawn or punches thrown.
- The contrast of that once a month dinner conversation with some of what we discussed the rest of the month showed us that when you talk about other people (gossip) it really pulls you down and it is never very satisfying.
- You can talk about “things” but at some point it gets boring, and you are surprised by what happens – it is rather unpredictable prospectively but in looking back it is obvious – what is that you ask? Well, you get addicted to the Dinner Club and the conversation – your brain gets so charged up with dopamine that you actually get an intellectual high from the nights conversation. It might not happen at the first dinner – but it will when you do this consistently. You train those neuron pathways to fire fast and hard and they do so to keep up and once that happens the flood gates open and you have the intellects version of the “runners high”. Yea, yea, I know you might think this is over the top but do not discount it till you try it. I recommend it highly, have fun and be warned it is addicting.
BTW – if any of you decide to host a Dinner Club event please send an invite my way. J
PS - Good day, 13 mile run, hard spin class, weights and a solid dance with Sally - felt strong till the last few seconds. Made it to 175 on the pushup meter. 247 seems impossible - that is why it is a goal, yup - it has to be hard or it is not worth it.