Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A View from a Newer Member--Frederick Carl De Troia

I faced a significant adjustment to my life when I retired twenty years ago.  My time had been filled by raising children, enjoying a fulfilling careers and pursuing other interests as time permitted. Now there is more time available. How do we fill it? I am unique to the Men’s Wisdom Works as I was able to move to Asheville in 1995. Before I made the leap of faith (very early retirement) I talked to friends, who because of their careers, had to deal with too much or too little in time. My question to each was what do you do with your time? Their insights helped my transition to Asheville.

I chose to teach at AB Tech for 17 years. It was a post-retirement/not really fully retired decision.  The teaching culminated in my being awarded a teacher of the year award in 2010. The recognition was nice and definitely a little embarrassing. I thoroughly enjoyed my tenure at AB Tech.  All good things must come to an end.

Here I am again having to redefine myself. When I was in college the introductory question was always “What is your major?” When working “What do you do?” In retirement the response is “I used to ….” Who we are is never as simple as our profession or our major or our avocation. The beginning of our latter year’s redefinition can be found in what we do now, what we care about now, who we love now and what we commit to now. MWW became the source of my next redefinition of self and my contributions.

Once again, what to do with my time? OLLI, The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, at UNCA seemed like a good idea. I sign up for some classes; nice to be on the other side of the podium. I checked out OLLI’s various SIGs (Special Interest Groups) and I I discover something called Men’s Wisdom Works and think; Hey I am smart; maybe not wise; I am having fun; I am engaged in the community; but I am not spending any time with men of my own age. I am kind of a loner.

So I join the waiting list to form the newest MWW group.  There are 10 of us attending our first meeting. Each of the men has the “what the hell am I doing here look about them”. In short we are all cautious about this and the people sitting at the table.  

As time progresses we get to know each other. Some are facing very difficult issues with either their health or the health of their significant others. We are respectful.  I truly like the members of my group. No one is taking an ego trip on me.  I look forward to seeing our members. When I leave for the summer the one thing I miss is our weekly gatherings. I am saddened that one of our members has to leave the group because of his wife’s’ health issues.  It has taken a while to find our way trying to figure out what works for us.  Now, we gather weekly, twice monthly for our formal meetings on the off Wednesdays those of us who can gather at various venues for some social time together. At our last meeting it was pointed out that we had been together for 10 months. I am fortunate that the this group of men are all comfortable in their skins. We are a diverse group who are beginning to laugh together, care about the various pursuits of each other and are supportive of each other.

While we are still maturing as a group it is an activity that I am happy that I availed myself of. The investment of my most precious resource (time) in MWW Group IX has been rewarding. Fortunately, I have a wonderful wife who has supported this activity.  While Group IX continues to chart its own path I enjoy each step of the journey.