We had another meeting of the Old Souls group—my buddies from over the years who get together every few months to share our lives and experience as we grow older. We’ve been at it since 2001 and it is a special opportunity not only to be with friends, but also to have the kind of reflective space that empowers each of us in our own lives. The wife of one of our members marvels at how rare it is to find a group of men who are willing to be so open, vulnerable and supportive.
I have belonged to other men’s groups. They can be very enjoyable and supportive, but somehow this one is different. One difference may be that we’re all consultants and coaches of various sorts and have a finely tuned capacity to listen to more than just each other’s story, but also to pick up on the deeper level concerns. I have shared some of my darkest fears and failures, as well as my brightest and best moments with these men.
As I think about it, this might not be such an unusual group if we were women. At least, I imagine that a group of women who were old friends might normally relate this way. It is the fact that we are men that makes this gathering notable. For at least a couple of days every few months, we leave our egos and our strengths outside the door and just ‘be ourselves’—without pretense or concern for what others may think. The bottom line is that we love each other. Most of us are pretty good at expressing it and acknowledging people, but not so great at receiving it and letting it in. In this group, we let it in.
We’ve been through a lot with each other. One member has dropped out and three more have joined. A few of us have had to deal with family tragedies, and a few of us have confronted a variety of career crises of one sort or another. None of us have died, although one of these days we’ll probably have to deal with that. Overall, the trends in our lives are positive and we’re becoming happier, healthier, more relaxed and more comfortable in our own skins as we grow older.
This is one group that demonstrates that life does get better as we grow older. Aging does give us more freedom and confidence. But most of all, it reminds us that it is friendship and love that make it all worthwhile—not how much we’ve acquired, how many books we’ve published, or how famous we are. And it becomes more apparent each year that the older we get, the more important our relationships become.