We met Smith while visiting his club and restaurant in downtown Nashville, The Standard at The Smith House, a members-only club in the tradition of the legendary University Club of New York.
We were seated in the club’s library when Smith entered and introduced himself, as is his custom. Making polite conversation, he said he had just returned from Spain.
I went to Spain in search of the Matador’s spirit.
He was hunting, he said. He was searching for that thing the matadors own–an ability to find meaning not by avoiding difficulty but by meeting difficulty head-on. He told a bit of his personal story and explained how a loss of faith led him on a search for meaning. He said, “I was self-righteous. The crisis knocked that out of me.”
He said it isn’t like he doesn’t believe in the things he was taught as a young person but that he now knows life isn’t a simple matter of cause and effect. He said good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people. He told us he was on a quest to learn how to be a good person despite circumstances. He said, “I went to Spain in search of the Matador’s spirit.”
The following summer we accompanied Smith as he trained with friends in California.