Victories - Wisdom Years Weekend - October 4-6, 2019 - A Wonderful Experience


Today I completed one of the most meaningful experiences of my life!    From beginning to end it was fascinating and challenging.   Parts of it were a lot of fun.   Occasionally, it brought tears and intense sadness.    I was one of 16 men over 50 years old, attending a Wisdom Years Weekend of Victories, a Chicago area organization that works with men.   Three co-facilitators, and six support staff worked with us from 5:30 p.m. last Friday, until 2:30 Sunday afternoon.

At the beginning we were challenged by several activities.  They helped us leave our “normal space” and begin to be immersed in the (very different) weekend experience.    Our work was mysterious at first, but not scary.  After the introductory words, we were separated for the first of five small group experiences.  My group had six men, with two group leaders.   The other two groups had five members.

We immediately got to know each other a little, as we started our weekend’s work.

From the beginning, it was very obvious that the nine support staff were highly competent, supportive, and simply very, very nice men!   Throughout the weekend they readily picked up when individual men seemed to be struggling or hurting, and offered support.    The staff were flexible, adjusting to much that went on. They joked in ways that helped us relax and be present.  They were each both one of us, in sharing their issues, as well as knowledgeable leaders.  They kept us focused, helping move us out of difficult space, when we were stuck or struggling.

With each large and small group session, our isolation as individuals grew smaller, as we relaxed and our group bonds tightened.    We were given the lyrics and joyfully sang songs by artists like: Simon and Garfunkel and Phil Ochs.   On Saturday we became a solid, loving, caring community. All were accepted and appreciated.    We shared feelings related to death and loss with many tears and a lot of caring.    We had an incredible time writing poems and songs to share together.  Many of us apologized for our poor abilities, only to be applauded vigorously and told how much our effort was appreciated.

I wrote:

“I came -
Open, hoping –
my expectations wouldn’t –
be too extreme -
I found –
much, much more -
A new world –
beyond-
Far beyond –
What –
I could have hoped for-
Men –
Amazing Men –
Growing with me –
Music, Food, Puzzles –
untangling parts -
of my soul –
Scratching into my heart –
Feeding me –
thoughts and feelings –
I could not –
have imagined –
Men –
I want –
to Really
Get to know –
Love, connection –
Words fail me –
My heart is starting –
to open –
My soul is replenished –
I’m Thankful –
Amazed, -
A Little tired –
And Very Happy” -

I really hope other men will share what they wrote, as well as their feelings – to add to this writing!

Several times we came back to the large group joining the warm, loving drumming.  We shared a few minutes of relaxed, communication with our own individual rhythmic instruments.

Sunday was a day of warm connections and closure.   It was most meaningful!

We had an enjoyable final ritual.   We shared our commitment statements.  In them we specifically committed ourselves,explaining how we would  begin our work towards meaningful change. We had a final group picture.

I left the weekend very happy, mellow and satisfied!

My experiences over this weekend were not my first work with other men.   In the early 1980’s I was active in the pro-feminist men’s movement.  I  helped co-found and build Men Stopping Rape, Inc. of Madison, Wisconsin.    In recent years I started and greatly expanded: “A Men’s Project” which had links on various men’s issues to their websites.  In 2014 I joined The ManKind Project, initially going through their New Warriors Weekend.  

Clearly, Victories has found common ground  with some things from the Mankind Project.   Both organizations began in the 1980’s not far apart in the Midwest.   I think that MKP could learn a lot more from Victories.   The pro-feminist men’s movement has no similar organizations, though some excellent work is done through it.

Victories is virtually all white and heterosexual.   About 2/3 of its men come from the north and northwest suburbs of Chicago.   It will obviously need to change in meaningful ways, to be relevant to the needs of many men who aren’t a part of it.

None of Victories weaknesses can seriously detract from the wonderful things that it does.   It takes men, who want to work towards internal change.  It helps give us a lot of support.   It allows us the opportunity to make a big difference in our lives.   Its Personal Growth Groups, (a closed bi-weekly group formed out of attendees at each weekend), and other offerings, help build a meaningful, expanded world for the men who actively participate.

Through our work, we learn how to be better life partners, fathers and happier, more fulfilled men.   Thank you!!!!

-         George Marx – October 7, 2019

---

Thinking how is this gonna be,
Never sure of ME,
Shall I say what is true,
Embarrassment follows but the sky stays blue,
There are no showers,
Let the sun shine upon those in my tower
May I live a life so their love overpowers

(anon)

---


PLEASE (fellow attendees)– add to this blog entry with anything you wish to share including your own poems or songs.    Whatever you send (via email or simply responding on the blog) may be either anonymous or with your name on it.   


Thanks!



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Primer for Today and Tomorrow

Cristal Nell - a Tragic Death

Am I The Only One? I Hope Not!