Wednesday, December 4, 2013

End of Competition With Other Men - E.L.

Our newest post comes from a wise and thoughtful member of Men's Wisdom Works, groups for men in Asheville.  You'll find his post both enlightening and insightful.  I hope you enjoy his unique perspective on his transitions through life.

I'm 82 years of age.  I'm pretty sure I'm retired, but less sure of how and when that happened.  Maybe the better question is, "How often have I retired".  I looked up the word retirement and the definition I like best is: "withdraw to and from a particular activity."  "Wow", I thought, "I've done that a lot of times.   It describes me."

As an architect, at 29 I formed a multi-state company which designed building complexes in the Eastern U.S.  After two decades I turned the company over to associates.  Six years after the first beginning I created a company that engaged, through partnerships, in owning large scale buildings.  It grew into a successful venture, but at age 55 I wearied of that as well.  I created lesser ventures and served on several boards of private and public corporations. Then that bored me.  Come to think of it I earned my last degree at 65, and left academia for good, and I stopped my 60 year pursuit of tennis rankings at age 76.  So what are all these departures called?

Unable to decide whether I am retired or just someone with a short attention span, I examined these experiences looking for a common thread.  Then I discovered the common thread woven throughout my various career pursuits. It is "COMPETITION."  Whether for grades, points, money, prestige, a mate, honors, a ranking...every activity from which I retired was filled with competition.  And in the decades I refer to, every bit of this competition I was engaged in was with, or against men.  It is this competition with men from which I retired. 

This retirement led me to new experiences, including a particularly unique adventure in a men's group that flies under the flag, "Men's Wisdom Works". The emotional environment of this group of 11 encourages men to invest in mutual levels of trust that lead to an exchange of views and experiences in ways which foster well-being in men.

Any semblance of intentional therapy is purposely avoided, but there is no doubt that what is gained by the men in the bi-monthly meetings and our spontaneous and enjoyable breakfast gatherings contains the power of significant change.  Out of our shared reflections we receive insights into the strengths, fears, unspoken wishes and disappointments, and shortcomings and successes that we each struggled with, or achieved.  We come to know each other not as the WHO or WHAT we have tended, as adults, to present ourselves as, but THE ONE WITHIN that we are.  It is a safe process for discovery because we men are not competing.