Digger Cartwright

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Conversations on the Bench

Conversations on the Bench Conversations on the Bench

Life lessons, wisdom, wine, women, and simple conversations…An inspirational story based on actual events...

I only met Sebastian Peréy in person on one occasion, but that was enough for him to make a lasting and indelible impression. I’ll never forget that day. Even though it happened many, many years ago, it still lingers as fresh in my mind as if it were only yesterday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a hot, humid September morning in South Carolina in 2007. I had been invited to the Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach to participate in a symposium that was hosted by the think tank, Thinking Outside the Boxe, what was supposed to be a gathering of great intellectuals to discuss the world’s problems and come up with solutions to the pressing issues of the day.

As I looked toward the gathering that had assembled in the ballroom of the Dunes Club overlooking the beautiful blue Atlantic, two individuals caught my attention. A younger, very thin man wearing a black, three-piece suit with a gold pocket watch and fashionable sunglasses was standing somberly beside the table with his arms crossed, listening to the others. He was impressive looking, smartly dressed, and classy, clean shaven, with his hair neatly parted from left to right. He could have easily hailed from Washington DC or Miami, and he stood out from the rest. There was some presence about him, almost an aura that seemed to shout that he was someone important, yet unapproachable.

But the room really belonged to the giant of a man seated in a side chair at one end of the table. I knew instantly it was Sebastian. He must have weighed a quarter-ton, 500 pounds, and he looked something like a Puerto Rican Albert Einstein, with a tan complexion, bushy salt-and-pepper hair, and goatee. He was dressed nicely but casually in navy slacks and a black polo shirt that revealed massive, muscular arms. He was talking with one hand and holding the knob of a very large, hand-hewn walking stick, something like a gnarled tree limb, with the other hand. He beamed a mixture of enlightenment, wisdom, and a zest for life. The man stood out in a room for very different reasons than the man in black. He was the life of a party, the captivator in a conversation, thanks to his jovial personality and good-natured demeanor. He was the type of man who knew no stranger, and he could talk to anyone about nearly anything. Everyone wanted to be around him, if for no other reason than to hear what he was saying. Wherever he was at any given moment, it was as if a stage had sprouted up beneath him—a real one-man show and the perfect contrast to the man in black. People were drawn to him, and I was no exception. Little did I know at that meeting that the story was only just beginning . . .

Never without something to say or some lesson to share, Sebastian would share a wisdom gained through his own unique life experiences—from growing up in the segregated South to making his way in the world amidst a deep recession to searching for purpose. Conversations on the Bench is a compilation of some of Sebastian’s greatest life lessons. Filled with everything from how to negotiate a business deal to how to get the best service at a restaurant, Conversations on the Bench is not only a fitting tribute to Sebastian’s words of wisdom but a primer for life itself.

 

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