Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Best of the Rest -- Don Pfister

Nineteen seventy was not a good year for me.  My brother died from untreated peritonitis following an appendectomy.  My father died a few weeks later.  Through it all I was an airman serving in Viet Nam.  My title in Nam, "Base Casualty Control Coordinator", seemed to spill into my personal life.  My emotions became another casualty from battles both in Viet Nam and at home.  Issues lingered, but life continued.

Having an MA in counseling with a concentration in small group dynamics, I became involved with the Men's Movement early on.  As an example, I enjoyed sitting with Robert Bly at an Omega Institute event in the late eighties or early nineties.  I've been a member of at least six men's groups over the years,, having started, with the help of others, at least three groups.

In Asheville I attended an ongoing weekly men's group at a community church in the early 2000's, but I grew dissatisfied with the constantly changing membership so I started a smaller group there with the help of a friend.  He and I were the first to drop out when the group focused on the 3 B's; beer, ball games, and broads.  I was searching for a group offering more meaning and in-depth discussions of personal issues.

Our MWW group is the BEST men's group I've ever joined.  I attribute that to the fact that whether by chance or determination, all of us had previously done significant "personal work on ourselves".  This close knit group creates and perpetuates a culture of non-egotistical sharing of self.  I'm impressed by this since 80% of the men in my MWW group are P.I.P.'s, Previously Important People".  Our P.I.P.'s and other members share personal information with an abundance of modesty, and the group itself reflects the same attribute of modesty.

We sure avoid the 3-B's.  Likewise, we avoid turning our meetings into advice giving.  Rather, we'll reflect we've done in similar circumstances.  Take it or leave it.

And then we breakfast together twice a month.  I never miss a breakfast.  That's where we really get to know one another, talk about politics or social issues, and laugh.  At our breakfasts we're just guys.  Laughter and authenticity is what keeps us together.

At 70 I am more willing to ask for help.  I realize I'm not alone in that thought.  Now I have men to whom I can reach out if I ever need help.  The regular meetings and breakfasts are among the most spiritual/religious times of my week.

Though I knew him prior to our joining this group, I did not know Stephen Jones would be in my group.  He got to know me and care about me like no other man ever did other than my own brother.  Stephen saw me as a lonely person and he reached out to me.  I was his listening friend.  Our group continues to be invaluable in my mourning the death of Stephen Jones.  Stephen was my closest friend since the death of my older brother at age 26.  My Men's Wisdom Works group continues to sustain me because life continues.

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