325603_10150558226279234_1528789955_oby Andrew Dudek

Brian Clarey asked if I would be interested in writing for his new publication. He said I could write about anything that I wanted to. I wholeheartedly agreed without know what I would write about. I thought about writing about my epic motorcycle trip to Alaska with my friend Will. Or even about the time my friends and I saw Bad Brains play the night before the first day of our junior year in high school and we didn’t get home until 5 a.m. because their tour bus got pulled over and they didn’t start until 2 in the morning.

Man my mom was pissed, but it was so worth it.

I though that I might talk about my time living for free in Hawaii, but leaving that ideal setup to start a record store. No, you’ve all heard that story many times. I’ve got something way more boring then that for ya.

A few weeks ago I turned 41. To some of you that’s nothing. I’ve still got so much life to live, you might say. Still others will definitely find me too old to have a clue and will only see me as a middle-aged dude with a big, grey beard.

Truth be told, I hate it. I don’t want to get old. I don’t want to have to deal with physicals or achy bones or failing vision. I don’t want to have a grey beard. I want to eat whatever I want without a hint of exercise. I want to be able to see a band play and not be the weird guy there. More importantly, I want to still make an impact in the world. At 41 I ask myself quite often: “What mark are you going to leave?” I’m not talking about a legacy or anything as vain as that, but something substantial, something lasting that carries on without me. To me that’s important.

Growing up I thought I had what it took to be a great skateboard pro. In college I had the goal of being the next big, edgy artist. After that I was positive my band would finally take off and get noticed. None of that happened of course, but along the way I discovered more and more about myself that wasn’t apparent before.

Those who know me know that I was born to be a host. I truly just want to give. Through all the shows that I’ve ever booked and dance parties that I’ve DJed and events that I’ve helped organize, my main goal has always been for people to have an amazing time. I want people to leave those moments with lasting memories or an awesome photo that they took of their friends. For me, it’s one small way that I feel like I’m doing good in the world: by offering chances for people to find new experiences or maybe new friends or bands or feelings.

My biggest achievement to date and the one I’m most proud of is the creation of the Beard and Moustache Club of North Carolina. Ridiculous isn’t it? Before you judge, know that in seven very short years this club of men and women has grown to consist of two chapters, in Greensboro and Charlotte, with more than 100 dues-paying members who have raised well over $30,000 for local nonprofits in the past three years alone. I think this club could have a chapter in every major city in the state in seven more years.

It’s so much more than a club for bearded people and enthusiasts. We do, or at least I believe we do, very positive things for our community and North Carolina as a whole, and it’s how a bunch of us leave our mark in this world.

I certainly didn’t want to get all high and mighty with this article, but I think it’s an important question to ask yourself. How do you leave your mark on the world? Like Brian and his new Triad City Beat, Jordan Green and Eric Ginsburg got into journalism to make some positive change and help people stay informed. I’m sure it is much more then a job to them, and that’s what’s important.

To me, it’s not about what you will be known for, it’s about how you impact people positively. It’s not me who created a music scene in the 2000s, it’s all of you who came to be a part of it. I just lit the candle, it’s all of you that gathered around it.

What candle are you going to light? What mark are you going to leave for others to enjoy years down the road?

Thank you for listening.

Andrew Dudek is a founder of the Beard & Mustache Club of NC.

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