One of my favorite restaurants growing up was Geno’s East in Chicago. It served deep-dish Chicago-style pizza, the kind of pizza with golden, crumbly, crust and tons of cheese. I could usually only eat one or two slices before I was stuffed.
One of the things that was cool about Geno’s East (at least for a kid) was that you could write your name on the wall. The walls of the restaurant were filled with messages, names, and dates. I loved writing “Josh” and the date on the wall. For some reason, it felt good to have a permanent marker that I was there.
Occasionally I help lead men’s weekends that focus on personal and spiritual growth. We usually go to the same camp, and similar to Geno’s East, there are places throughout the grounds where people have “marked” their experiences. The walls of the kitchen are filled with names and dates. Names and dates are written all across the bunk beds where we sleep. There are even bricks throughout the camp engraved with the names of previous campers. Sometimes I take a stroll through the camp and read the names, wondering about their stories.
I believe both these places touch on a fundamental truth about our lives. At some deep level, we each have a need to let others know we were here—and that it mattered. We long to be intimately known by others, and we long to have a deep sense that our lives made a difference somehow. If you can figure out how to fill your life with intimacy and meaning, I think you are well on your way to a satisfying life.
Discussion: What do you think about our needs for intimacy and meaning? Are they fundamental to your life? How do you go about trying to meet your needs for intimacy and meaning?