Not long ago a very close mate of mine seemed a little flatter than his usual upbeat self. One night I had him come over for a couple of loose beers, smash a game or two of pool and blast some vinyl on the ever keen turntable.
The night rolled on as did the amber.
The games of pool became less and less serious, looking more like a game of cricket than snooker and the music just kept getting louder and serious!!! We ducked out for some fresh air and I then asked him.."how ya feelin' man? Are you ok? You seem a little flat dude. A little over preoccupied.. know what I mean? Is all good at home?"
The next thing blew my mind.
Out of the blue he just started sobbing uncontrollably and said "Man I just need a hug. I feel like shit man and I don't know why?"
"Talk man, it's ok." is all I could say.
All I remember saying for the rest of the night leading into the sunrise was that.... "it's ok man,it's ok...."
The morning slowly rolled in, just as the dawning of what had just been said came to me in full light. That so called casual evening turned out to be a life saver in more ways than I had ever imagined.
Sadly, I've lost a cousin and a close school mate who was a talented footy player and musician not to mention popular with the chicks, to suicide but they were out of the blue. Nobody saw it coming.
Gone! And a million questions to back it.... why?
It's dark and it's real!!
Now, some of you may remember this following story that I have shared with you before..........
One night I was listening to an old Johnny Cash 45, an original Sun Record. The song was 'Get Rhythm'. This song just grabbed me nothing like it had done before. I heard it for the first time.. again!
Only this time I listened to it. It resonated. After all that I'd heard and gone through with my good mate, the song made sense. The irony was it was the side B of the single. Side A was 'I Walk The Line' just to satisfy your curiosity.
It was this which inspired my Side B blend of coffee.
Side B will be the coffee featured exclusively on Wednesday November 9th when AOE proudly will put a highlight on the RU OK? Day Campaign. Together with our in house initiative, Human Beans 4 Peace, AOE/Side B will be donating ALL profits from our coffee sales from that day and $5 of every Side B kilo of coffee sold that day to the local RU OK? awareness program.
Not a lot of blokes generally think they need to talk about their feelings. Let me say this.... it is NOT a sign of weakness to talk. It's a sign of true strength when one recognises that they're vulnerable. It's only natural to have feelings. If anything,being in touch with your true feelings and emotions is in my mind a sign of incredible strength and character!! Self acceptance and self understanding is true peace! ...no room for issues once you got these in place!!!
The stereotypical bloke may not necessarily readily admit to this but let me also say this.... Prior to putting the RU OK? campaign together in early September, I thought I'd round up a heap of local blokes from all walks.... school teachers, tradies, farmers, baristas, butchers, ambos, cafe owners, musos, you name it. I thought instead of the generic RUOK? poster with a random happy image, why not get a heap of local fellas for a photo shoot and put a spotlight on the local scene. This would keep it very real and very open and above all the local scene would be connected to this cause in a very real way.
Well,the photo shoot day came, I put on beers, a few tunes and an opportunity for some blokes including myself,to become Australia's next top model!! Well, let me tell ya, the phone hasn't stopped.. sorry... started ringing!!
The best scene of all however was seeing and hearing the banter and chatter of nearly 30 blokes carrying on and laughing and especially chatting about RU OK?. It was memorable.
I felt for the first time in the bush,the stereotypical bloke myth had been for a moment, busted wide open. The emotion, the conversations had and the ongoing banter was real and unprecedented. I felt so damn good and for the first time in a very very long time, I felt proud to be a bloody bloke again without the bullshit macho tag and crap that goes with it!!!!!
Every fella that attended came up to me prior to heading off and gave me a heartfelt hug and thanks. It was a priceless evening and that's also considering that for some of us our modelling careers were well and truly over. In fact they actually never got started!
The stats show in 2015, suicides hit an all time high. Last year 3027 Australians(SMH) took their own lives.. that's an average eight a day. 2500 were men!! That's 2500 Aussie blokes a year people!! Seriously WTF?!!!!!! What is happening? We live in the best piece of land on earth, Australia, and are blessed with over abundance!
Why is this then? Ask the question..RU OK? It's no use making out that all is cool when it's not!
Sometimes that small conversation is enough to potentially save a life. Noboby can cope with everything. It's that simple. A lot starts from home and upbringing. A lot also goes on at school, at work, at home or even via general media. That perfect image, that real blokes don't cry image, the tough guy, the cool guy, the popular dude, the prettiest girl with the world at her feet..... whatever.... one thing is certain and that is everybody is vulnerable and there are things we CAN do!!
Back to my good mate, he is in a good place, he feels stronger now. That conversation we had that night saved his life!! His words not mine!
I simply said to him "mate,you are an incredibly strong man for sharing your feelings. What you just told me is a sign of character and strength. You are a real man for that and be bloody proud of that man!! The alternative would've been weak!"
To this day,I personally hug as many people as I can, man or woman. I hug my team when I get into work, my customers and whoever else is up for it. It helps break down that unnecessary barrier we humans seem to constantly put up for reasons I haven't and can't work out.
May I take this opportunity to thank all the blokes who turned up for the photo shoot to help this special cause. Your modelling careers could finally now take off! I haven't had an offer since 26th January 1968, but that's cool, I'm not gonna let that get me down. I still reckon beauty is in the eye of the beer holder!!!
A big thanks also to the beautiful ladies that helped to make this happen... Denise Yates for the amazing photography and Gabrielle (the definitely better half of the bean) for the beers, chips, stubby holders and support of a bloke who is what he is today because of her!!!!!
So please join us on Wednesday 9th November at AOE.. 35 Main Street Young. We will have professionals and info on hand in the bar to discuss your situations and how they may help you help others in need. The bar will be trading as per usual from 7.30 am to 4 pm and all profits from coffee sales donated to the local RU OK? campaign.
LIFELINE 13 11 14
MENS LINE 1300 789 978
BEYOND BLUE 1300 224 636
Peace and lotsa hugs to ya'll