By Jim Selman | Bio
Our group of men met for our semi-annual retreat on Vince’s farm in New Jersey. We’ve been meeting twice a year every year since 2000. Next year will be a decade of friends coming together for no other purpose than to support and empower each other in our lives. We’re older and we’ve been through a lot together. What I’ve grown to appreciate is that we’re all very willing, able and open to being vulnerable in sharing our lives, our experiences and our wisdom with one another.
In terms of the facts of our lives, I am sure we are pretty much like any group of eleven successful middle-aged men. Jeff, the youngest, is 50 something and Anton, the oldest, is 71. We’re all from either the East or West Coasts of the United States and we’re all businessmen. We’re all active, healthy and involved in committed relationships. None of us is particularly religious and all of us are ‘into’ one ‘spiritual’ path or another. There isn’t much ‘diversity’ in the group, yet all of us are actively working to contribute to the larger community in some fashion.
At one of our early meetings, someone suggested we’re just a bunch of ‘old souls’. This got shortened over the years to just the ‘Souls Group’. Our format is to start on a Thursday night with some relaxed fun and reconnecting, and then take an hour or two each (until Saturday afternoon) to share what is going on in our lives and particularly those areas where we’re struggling or unfocused. The rest of us provide some ‘straight talk’ as to what we see and try to contribute to one another. The capacity to ‘receive’ the love and insights of the others is one of the things I find remarkable in our group.
I have not been a member of any other ongoing ‘men’s group’ other than a regular men’s alcoholic support meeting I attend. Maybe all men’s meetings are similar in how they work and what they offer. I suspect that they are more alike than different. Occasionally someone will need to miss a meeting. It’s then I begin to wonder about all the men who are not in some way able to connect, commune and communicate with one another in an open and unguarded way. As I get older, this question comes more and more to mind, since it seems to me there is a tendency for men in particular to withdraw and become increasingly isolated as the years pass.
I don’t think our men’s group is going to change the world, but it has changed and enriched my life and I am sure the lives of the other ‘souls’. If there is a lesson we’re learning, it is that we’re not alone. We are all growing old together and finding that we’re becoming more inspired, happier and healthier as we age—even in the face of hardships, health challenges and breakdowns in our lives. There is no question in my mind that the quality of our relationships is the single most important variable in how we experience growing older.
© 2009 Jim Selman. All rights reserved.