As I mentioned in my last post, I recently saw Rocketman, the Elton John biopic, whose narrative centers around his major stint in rehab as a completely broken man. As I wrote about in Part 1, Elton’s father wound was a prominent theme in the movie. But there was another striking theme I found relevant to our audience.
For most of his life, Elton John was surrounded by many but known by no one . . . except for his longtime co-writer and friend, Bernie Taupin, who was the only one to visit Elton at rehab in the movie. In a recent interview with Time magazine on the film, Bernie says this about Elton . . .
“If we’ve weathered the storm now for over 50 years and have been able to maintain this extraordinary bond with each other, I don’t think there’s anything on God’s green earth that could separate us now.”
At the peak of his career, Elton John was alone. At the height of my career, I was alone. Many of the men who show up in our mentoring groups are alone. Friendlessness. Lonely. Isolated. Check out these numbers from a nationwide survey. They’re staggering . . .
- 54% said they always or sometimes feel that no one knows them well.
- 56% said they sometimes or always felt like the people around them “are not necessarily with them.”
- 40% felt like “they lack companionship,” that their “relationships aren’t meaningful,” and that they “are isolated from others.”
Today, we are more connected than ever . . . yet feel more alone than ever. Men find themselves sacrificing authentic friendships in favor of pursuing the “American Dream.” Their friendship muscles have atrophied and desperately need a workout. This is why we begin mentoring groups with story. As C.S. Lewis said, “Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’” Our end-of-mentoring-season surveys report that over 90% of men who complete their Radical Mentoring season are in an intentional male friendship where they are fully known. Compared with the stats about loneliness above, these mentees are radically different from most men in our culture.
So, what about you? Who is your plus-one? Or your 2:00am relationship? The person who knows you fully, accepts you unconditionally, and will pick up the phone when you call no matter the time of day.
Challenge: If you don’t have that kind of friend in your life, work on developing one. And if you do have that person, take a moment to say, “Thank you.”