Man, Alive! Winter 2020

Man, Alive! Winter 2020

NEW MEXICO MEN'S WELLNESS

MAN ALIVE!

Quiet

Winter Edition 2020

Welcome!

Peaceful, soundless, soft, calm, serene, sequestered, gentle, tranquil….these are some of the many synonyms for quiet. As autumn’s energy wanes from maintaining its’ many colors, keeping skies filled with cranes, geese and other airborne travelers and completing the harvests, winter arrives. With this arrival, sunlight retreats and the incremental shift to colder days appear.

Winter can be dark and lonely. It may equally be a time of quiet introspection, when moments might become underscored with serenity and calm. 

We hope that this edition of Man, Alive! might inspire you to create, to take these gentle months to reach out to loved ones, to both ask and offer as needed.

Times of separation and quarantine may have readied us for winter, and with the gift of quiet, we might actually find and tend the hope that may still abide within. Perhaps we might look to the sacred spaces within us and ready ourselves for the possibilities of a new spring.

Hopefully, these contributions may soothe, calm and inspire. May they encourage all of us to speak from our hearts and reach out to a world that always needs more peace…and quiet.

 

Blessings,

 

Hank

Man, Alive! 2021 Themes:

Spring- Discovery

Summer- Knowing

Fall- Preparation

Winter- Mindfulness

Quiet

by Tim Halford

On its face, Quiet seems an easy word to define and everyone knows what we mean by it.  In the original Latin, it meant “came from or through a dream where then one rests, in repose, and are still.”  But quiet can also mean “secretive” as in a “quiet manner.”  As an adjective it can mean noiseless, one who doesn’t speak much, or being unobtrusive. it can mean “gentle or easy going”, or “not disturbed by noise or activity.”  Quiet can mean “secluded” or “something that is carried out secretly.”  And in the world of real-estate, it is used to define a title that is “free from dispute.”  Quiet can mean so many things I have discovered.   

 

I choose to explore its original Latin meaning where one has a dream and then rests in repose and is still.  This implies to me that while resting from, we also reflect on, the dream.  And that dreams require a certain resting after they visit, suggests their significant impact on the body and mind if we do not.  Whether a bad dream or a good one, they are impactful to us.  Since we spend a third of our lives in the dream state as we sleep, this land we go to when we dream is as real as our waking life. Apparently, the body and mind feel the experiences even though we may be “quietly sleeping” or while active and moving during our waking life. 

 

It is probable that the origin of quiet meant that in our waking state we are also really in another dream.  And therefore, we must have quiet, rest and repose, to look at the waking dream we live in, in the other 2/3 of our lives.  If we can get still, quiet, perhaps in a meditative state, we can get glimpses of the “waking dream” we are living within.  If we can find a place of quiet, away from the “tyranny of the screens (TV, phone, computer), the noise of political and social unrest, even separate from the real anxiety and worry of a pandemic, we might find some clarity and easier acceptance of the world as it is and not as we would have it.  As Joseph Campbell used to say, “Say yes to it all,” for to refuse what is only brings more suffering.  And then perhaps to stand up on the ground you find yourself and makes some positive difference in the world.  Easier said….

 

Whether it is a daydream or a night dream, quiet is therefore essential.   For me, I often pop out of bed after a dream and forget it forever, unless of course, it is one of those memorable ones that shakes the core of my being or brings me a joyful bliss.  And I find that finding quiet for my daydreaming is limited, squelched out by the rush of the world and the “doing” within it which is anything but “rest, repose, and stillness.” 

 

So, what happens when we repress or deny “quiet time” for our dreams?  Well Freud found that, when we dream at night, those thoughts/emotions we repress when we are awake, show up in our dreams, and often give us a difficult night or poor sleep.  And then in our waking life, dream repression can cause depression, anxiety, and intense stress.  So, it appears that the Romans were right, about the need for quiet-rest, repose, and being still. They knew the impact of dreams upon our physical bodies and mind can be substantial without this “quiet time.”  In our current waking world, depression is the number one disabling condition in the world, and anxiety these days is palpable, in so many of us, me included. And our sleep is also quite disrupted as we push away or deny what is often so hard to carry, just too much – Trump, pandemic, the economy, separation, isolation, in our daily waking world.   

 

I see that I need to give more credence to my dreams and then finding “quiet time” when waking, and during the day, giving room for these dreams to speak their truth and meaning for my life.   I submit, we must be “quiet” more often and give our dreams their rightful place in our waking and sleeping life.  During these tense political pandemic times especially, BE QUIET.   

Savoring Quiet Pleasures

by David Kuenzli

In a world full of pleasures, how best can I decide

Just what makes me happy, way down deep inside?

 

If something sparkles like a diamond

But costs most of what I own,

Is it worth the price I have to pay?

Or will it sink me like a stone?

Seems like some folks can’t be happy

Till they’ve got a pot of gold.

But by then much of their life’s gone by.

They’re lonely and they’re old.

 

But I’m a contented person and will be till I’m laid to rest,

Because I’ve learned life’s peaceful pleasures are the best!

 

Yes, I’m savoring quiet pleasures

That have stood the test of time.

They’re the ones I share with friends

And make me glad to be alive!

Some things that sparkle like a diamond

Overtime can lose their glint.

 

That’s why to me life’s quiet pleasures are heaven-sent.

 

Seems like some folks get a bit confused

Wondering what this life’s about.

They work too hard and have no fun.

They’re full of angst and doubt.

If they ask me, I would say to them

“Take time to laugh and jest.

 

And remember peaceful pleasures are the best!”

Yes, I’m savoring simple pleasures

In the quiet deep inside.

They’re the ones I share with friends

And make me glad to be alive!

Things that sparkle like a diamond

Overtime can turn to dust.

 

That’s why to me life’s quiet pleasures are the best.

 

Vulnerability

by Mark Ayers

Why risk the precipice of vulnerability

When keeping the casement securely closed

Assures concealment and protection from harm?

 

Previously I’ve mustered the courage

To raise the curtain or prop the door open

And let just a sliver of me emerge.

 

Because I don’t want you to perceive

My hunger for connection

That demands attention yet I stifle.

 

Perhaps you’ll judge the defects I hide,

Or condemn deeds I’ve done in the past

And mock my trembling timidity and shame.

 

I hesitate to lower the protective shield

I laboriously erected

Even with you standing there

Inviting me.

 

Perhaps if I take the risk

Of stepping over the edge

You’ll withhold condemnation

As you behold parts of yourself

In the mirror of you that is me.

Sounds of Softness

by Hank Blackwell

Softened sounds serenade 

this late autumn morning;

gentle river whispers

in eddies and ripples,

voices of ancestors

weave quietly through gamble oak

and sweetgrass.

Raven wings cut

 through crisp air overhead,

cranes sing traveling songs

before the frost.

To slow and listen

One might hear

Winter’s footfall…

The Broken Table 

by Cleve Gardner 

I’m feeling like a Broken Table 

That will not stand again.

 

A crystal chalice shattered,

Blank paper without a pen.

Hours pass like days now,

cooped up without my kin.

 

I’m feeling like a broken table

 That will not stand again

 

Money lost and dwindled

my life doesn’t talk to me

Parents deep and settled

Four sisters cut down to three

I have not read the books

 yet

now my eyes,

are going bad.

I’m feeling so hopelessly broken

Frustrated and spitting mad.

 

When you finally get to be my age

you see all the time you’ve lost

youthful dreams left unfulfilled,

The relationships you’ve tossed.

I wish it hadn’t gone this way 

But everything finds its end.

 

I’m feeling like a broken table

That will not stand again.

 

Curing the Disease to Please

by Victor La Cerva

   More than twelve years ago, I was in a relationship that involved a lot of suffering for both parties. My part in those challenges was that I often would say yes to something – mostly to avoid conflict – and then have to deal with the consequences of agreeing to something I really didn’t want. My big learning in that intimate partnership was about having my yes, my no and my maybe. As we enter the quiet turning inward time of the year, I realize again that I still have some inner work to do. Especially during the twindemic winter ahead of us, with the isolation needed to contain CoVid19, it is even more important to ask kindly and clearly for what I’d like, and seek support when I need it. 

   So many of us grew up believing that: It is better to lie about my feelings if the truth might upset someone. AND I feel virtuous when I override my own needs or wishes to please others. AND I want people to sense it when I’ve hit my limit, without my having to say anything. At one extreme, some of us simply go blank when asked what we want, like, or think. We are habituated to tuning into the needs of others, while ignoring or minimizing our own. Our “to do” list often includes things we don’t have to do, and things we don’t want to do, and maybe we complain about other people’s needs and demands when they aren’t present, or feel resentful while doing things for them. All of these signs indicate that we need to practice saying a simple word: “No” It’s a complete sentence. We can soften it with “no, that really doesn’t work for me” or “no, not now,” or perhaps, “I’d like to think about that before I commit.” The NO or the maybe has to be clear. 

   We might feel distress about the thought of someone disliking or disapproving of us. To break out of people pleasing patterns and be done with being a doormat, I’ve found it illuminating to handstorm write no edit responses to these two statements: It’s not okay for other people to… (consistently show up late/expect me to always initiate getting together/ ask me to do stuff at the last minute because they were unorganized, trying to shift their stress to me. I have a right to ask for…. Quiet transition time when just home from work/ free alone time to do nothing in particular. When we are willing to consistently set limits, we actually increase our intimacy and connection, because we are being authentic and vulnerable. Healthy boundaries help to protect us physically emotionally, sexually and even intellectually from unwanted intrusions of other people. With time and practice, we learn to interact assertively rather than passively or aggressively. We make requests of others, rather than demands. We communicate clearly what we’d like, and what is really important to us. I still struggle – at times – with thinking that I am being selfish when I ask for something. Usually those close to me prefer it when I am clear. One simple technique to practice good boundaries is to habitually use a direct statement, rather than ask a question. “I’d enjoy going dancing tonight,” is direct, clear and kind. No need to hide my desire in a question: “do you want to go dancing tonight?” I may eventually ask that, but first I state what my preference is. It’s a subtle distinction, but it helps me practice first stating what I would like, rather than hiding it in question to the other.  

   In general, instead of concealing how we are feeling about a given choice, we can speak our truth, stand up for ourselves and regain our personal power by revealing what we’d really prefer. When setting boundaries, there is no need to defend, debate, or over-explain our feelings. We can be firm, yet gracious. When faced with resistance, repeat our statement or request. Practice with small things. Ask for support in making these changes, to overcome the inevitable guilt and resistance. Keeping healthy boundaries is a powerful strategy for getting my needs met. Doing so is really about self-care and self-love, and requires me to be in touch with my own needs in an ongoing way as I relate to others. Others may have their expectations around what they want from me; I get to create the ABC of my own boundaries, in terms of Action (my yes no and maybe), Balance (how I spend my time and energy) and Communication (how much I reveal or conceal). It takes practice to find the sweet spot between being too rigidly self- absorbed, or having boundaries that are too porous, where I am too concerned about the other to the detriment of myself. 

   Boundaries are where the core relationship issues will keep showing up. 

At times, everyone dissolves boundaries in order to avoid conflict or please another, or meet another’s expectation—no problem with that. I know I’m on the right track when there is a sense of spaciousness in the relationship, I can make requests with kindness without a lot of emotional charge, I feel mostly centered and grounded, without drama around everyday doings. Relationship boundaries also seem healthy when there is a mutual willingness to break habits and routines creatively so we both get needs met, and when I take full responsibility for the results I’m getting in the relationship

Fish Creek Woods

by Lawrence Cook

To gather in Winter —

To glide on skis and/or trudge on snow shoes;

Or just be out in the elements –

For camaraderie or solitude.

To return to share reflections in relaxation.

Knowing that Wellness is to be cherished and celebrated

In all Seasons, throughout the Year!

Sally’s Bridge

by Doug Booth

The phone rang, Sally was late – Sally was never late, not in our 27 years together – never.  She was learning Spanish to better serve homeless Latinas, but she hadn’t arrived at class yet – something was wrong.

I jumped into my Jeep, careening down the drive, hitting my electric gate as I barreled through.  

A light snow had fallen that early morning of April 7th.  I drove as fast as I could.  Then I saw it… eight State Police officers blockading the I-25 bridge, forcing traffic to detour… and I knew.  

“Bridge freezes before highway”, says the warning sign.  I drove up to the cops, asking them what happened.  They asked my name then the name of my wife.  One senior officer came up and took me aside telling me Sally had been in a single-car crash – it was fatal.  With disbelief I asked him the model of her vehicle, which was down the hill out of sight – her red Toyota pick-up

How did I feel?  The sweetest, dearest woman of my dreams, the woman with whom I was going to live out my life was dead – gone.  The reality slowly sank in as I began sobbing, then wailing, walking in circles in the snow, unable to breathe, unable to think.  So this is hell.

 

 

Sally and I met at a food-coop picnic in L.A.  and soon fell in love.  She was a struggling actress and I a poor law student.  We loved dancing, good films, wild art, avant garde plays and books, making love and traveling the world together.   But, this pain was like nothing I’d ever known.

But, I had to see her again.  I dashed around the officers to find her truck beneath the bridge.  But, two young Troopers ran fast, grabbing me gently, preventing me from seeing what I did not want to see – my guardian angels in grey.

 

Sally had asked me that morning if I wanted to drive into town with her.  But, I was sitting happily by the fire writing.   I looked at her reluctantly, and she said kindly “never mind”, kissing me goodbye – for the last time.  I blamed myself for not having gone with her, for I would have driven and I was the better driver.  

A good friend consoled me later repeating to me, “Doug, it couldn’t have been otherwise”.  “But”, I objected, “what if…”  “Doug, it couldn’t have been otherwise.”   It was her time to go and all the love in the world couldn’t change that.  Her work was done on this plane – she had crossed Sally’s Bridge.

Now, when I pass Sally’s Bridge I say a prayer for her.  I reckon she’s doing fine.  Her beautiful, loving nature, and the work she did insure that – no question.  It’s the rest of us who must deal with the pain, honoring her with our grief, our tears and our joy at wondering what new adventures she must be living.

 

Standing before you tonight, I recall many of the faces in attendance from Men’s Wellness, who came to Sally’s memorial.  Many of you are in this room tonight.  You were there for me and Sally, to hold us in your hearts.  

 

Should anyone ask what NM Men’s Wellness is about – now you know.

A Song of Joyful Silence

by David Kuenzli

In my oneness with all Nature, my Soul gives quiet birth

To a song of joyful silence 

For our precious Mother Earth.

I am one with the River as it courses through my veins.

I am one with the Sunlight

That helps to heal my pain.

I am one with the Wind as it blows across my face.

I am one with the Clouds

As they paint the sky with grace.

I am one with Eagle’s Wings as they beat within my chest.

I am one with Eagle’s Courage 

To face life’s greatest tests.

I am one with Eagle’s Eye as it sees life’s deeper worth.

I am one with Eagle’s Balance 

As he flies between Sky and Earth.

I am one with Mother Bear who seeks sweet honey’s truth.

I am one with the Wisdom

That she gleans from Mother Earth.

As I go into Earth’s Dream Lodge, I release and I let go

Of all that holds me back

From living in the flow.

I am one with the Snake who creates a better me.

I am one with her Magic, 

Shedding old to set me free.

As I watch her transform poison to an antidote that heals,

I learn to set aside the false,

Embracing what is real.

I am one with the Deer whose Peace melts hearts of stone.

I am one with her friendships

Reminding me I’m not alone.

As I watch Deer move in Silence across the winter land,

I learn to face my daily fears 

With an open-hearted hand.

I am one with the Trees as they fill my lungs with air.

I am one with the Rain 

As she washes through my hair.

I am one with Coyote as he sees Life’s cosmic humor.

He makes me laugh amidst the fears

Of this serious, aging boomer.

I am one with all creatures, all creatures great and small.

I am one with Mother Nature. 

I am one with it all.

In my oneness with all Nature, at last my Soul gives birth

To a song of joyful silence 

For our precious Mother Earth.

January Morning

By Hank Blackwell

The sky is a clean, deep blue,

almost glacial,

and the cold has a sharp, steel edge

slicing through

my winter breathing.

Stepping cautiously

over driveway ice,

I begin my stroll

away from these

walls of solitude.

The quantum physics

of this ritual

remain unforgiving-

the correlation between

solitude and isolation.

These crisp, quiet steps

upon yesterday’s snow

relieve me

from the repetition

of remorse;

birdsong and rising sun

dissuade sadness…

Soon, the walk will end.

Re-entering my house,

I choose again

between gratitude and regret,

isolation and breath,

winter’s edge and

the slow, glacial melt…

Goodbye to Ray

By Ross Perkal

I looked down at my good buddy for more than forty years and he looked peaceful, at last.  At the open casket, he was dapper in his finest go to court-suit, with his matching tie.  He had a somber, but contented look on his face.  The sanctuary was filling up rapidly, with more than two hundred of his family, friends, acquaintances, fellow lawyers, and judges, from all walks of life.  

I tiptoed up to see him, the only person present, to do so, and spoke to him quietly, with but with solemn reverence, before the service began. We said goodbye, and I praised his courage and devotion and blew him a kiss. 

Many of his friends, lawyer associates, family members, and members of the community were present.   All had come to pay homage, not only to wish him and his family well, but to recognize a person who always stood large in his life, and in ours.  He would not be partying, nor playing tennis with us, anymore.  He would no longer be in psychic pain.  He deserved to be rid of his physical pain, as well.

As I turned around and gazed at his acquaintances, many waved, and smiled, tearfully, and I reciprocated.  I thought it strange that no one would come up and join the honoree, at the front of the church, to look upon our friend and to say a final, kind word.   I savored the opportunity for us to connect, and for him to psychically confide in me, his final, earthly act, which I have come to treasure and adore.  

I have never been much of a funeral service kind of guy.  When I was 8 years old, two of my fellow cub scouts, riding in the back of a pickup truck, fell out and died.  My parents would not let me attend their services, thinking I was too young then to deal with death.  Sixty years later, I still feel too young to do so.  

Enough of me–just a pal, who knew him well during his life; shared some sorrow and much joy; watched and listened carefully to his clear needs, during his last months and days; and visited with him, alone preferably, or with others, if required.   He said some profound things during his final days.  Few others focused on him having his last days be peaceful, nor sought to mitigate his pain.  Certain family members were too busy scheming to receive items from his estate, instead.

When he was first hospitalized, four months before, I recall his outrage.  He had just been admitted to the Hospice Ward at a local hospital, so as to hurry him along on his precious journey.  They wrested him away from his beloved home, which he enjoyed so much.  A young resident doctor, whose duty it was to move hospice patients in and out as soon as possible, had told my friend just before I arrived, “you only have one week left to go, or less.”  My friend smiled at me, sarcastically, and said “we will see about that!”  He lasted 15 weeks after leaving Hospice.

An Ivy League Law graduate, and an esteemed member of this community and its constituents, he was smart and savvy to the end, despite his pain level. He knew that his earthly bonds were being loosened, so that he might relax, upon his upcoming journey.   But with every passing day, many of the “others” were only anxious for him to hurry up and leave.  They could not wait to carve up his estate, fight over who got what; and prove to the other family members which of them, was the closest to the decedent. 

That day, while we were visiting alone, my first to the hospice unit, he asked his significant other, of 20 years, to “give us a minute,” and she left, smiling at me and nodding her head.   We had become close friends, over the years that they were together, and she was in jeopardy of being disinherited, and had sought my advice, as a lawyer whom she trusted, to give her needed advice.

          She had briefed me, as to the shenanigans and other unlawful acts that his blood relatives had been perpetrating upon them.  None of them had a hint of humanity, ethics, nor any consciousness of the moral right and wrongs of one’s own acts, nor of their improper motives.   

Realizing that his ending was imminent, he had done the right thing, and, finally, married his caretaker, in a short, but sweet, ceremony in their home, just ten (10) days before he first went into hospice.  He was weak, and could not stand up, but none of his loved ones were aware of his disease, nor its severity.   

My friend had known of a serious health condition which had appeared two (2) years before his passing.   Without the consent of his then significant other of some eighteen (18) years, he had made a selfish, personal decision not to seek, nor to attempt to try to repair his health then.  That decision had directly led to his sudden, never-before suspected by any of us, demise.

The cast of infidels is too long to describe here.   Each behaved   outrageously, when one by one, they raced over to beg my buddy for gifts.  One sibling, egregiously and blatantly demanded $10,000, before my friend passed.  He, the most unethical of them all, did not trust the new wife, to do the right thing, after my friend was gone.  That unsupported, untrue aspersion was no both desperate and defamatory.   

I am sad to report that nothing changed, as my friend weakened. Only the co-conspirators’ fanatical insistence upon getting their demands gifted to them before my friend passed.  The accelerated timing of their final, insistent demands, were shameful, now, in my friend’s final moments of divine grace.

Most humans know what shame consists of:  dishonor, disgrace, and a realization that we may have done something wrong.  In this case, my friend instantly became beholden to a group of blood-sucking relatives, who tried to influence the decedent’s mind, as to the disposition of his estate.  They cajoled and badgered him, in his last few weeks, despite the decedent having made his heartfelt intentions perfectly clear, before his ultimate demise.

My friend was clever and ultimately, deceitful, in order for him to accomplish his true dispositive intentions.  To protect his new wife from the slings and arrows that the robbers were shooting forth recklessly, my friend told everyone that he was giving his entire estate to his thirty-year old son, who was dysfunctional, had no education, and no ability, nor judgment to deal with a sizable estate or the jackals preying on it.  That made the ne’er-do-good relatives apoplectic, and they insisted that they receive their expected “gifts,” before my buddy passed away. 

If this tale of woe seems sad, I must admit, that right up until the very end, the relatives all believed that he was going to disown the new wife, in his “last” Will and Testament.  Severe arm- twisting had gone on for the entire four months that my friend was bed-ridden, trying to throw his true and only caretaker under the bus.  It had appeared to all of us on the outside, that the blood relatives had indeed prevailed.  It also appeared to the new wife, that my friend had omitted her, in favor of the blood relatives, and others.

Just a week after he left us, the lawyer, who may have been in deep psychic and physical pain, was, to the very end, conscious as to his final mission.  Indeed, when the signed version of his Last Will and Testament was read aloud, at his lawyer’s office, just one week after the service, the slimy, scheming, selfish and totally narcissistic heirs, each of whom believed on the day of the funeral service, that they had indeed stolen my friend’s fifty years of blood, sweat and tears, away from his new wife, in their favor, were in for the rudest awakening of their lives. 

They were cursing and shouting obscenities, and feeling “cheated,” with the final, fair, fundamentally righteous result.  My friend had changed his Will only the day before he passed, and made his new wife the sole beneficiary.

The moral of this disturbing story for me, was to stay loyal to the end, and to trust in a friendship and knowledge of some 40 years span, and pray that the right result might prevail.

My friend started with nothing, but his intelligence, pride and sense of righteousness prevailed.  He ended his adventure with dedicated, intention to do the right thing, against all odds.   

He must have been chuckling as he sailed into the gates of heaven, without regard to the roiling dissonance he had left behind.  His new wife was shocked, but overjoyed at the sudden, but appropriate, outcome.   All’s well that ends well!

Ode to Fred

by Cleve Gardner

Sipping knowledge

like fragrant tea

he

mentors by example

while befriending me.

Numbed by pains

best forgot

teaching

life’s experiences,

lessons taught.

 

“Time is short

live with joy

indulge your passions

keep your mind employed.

Follow your path

wherever it leads

don’t waste your life

planting your seed.

Your Time is now

so sing your song

go forth, my friend,

life

is not long.”

Howard

He was always a gentle man. Generous, humorous, talented, 

well-spoken. Howard Kaplan indeed set a quiet, loving example for so many of us. Perhaps one of his most notable(and powerful) traits was his willingness. Willingness to be of service, willingness to be kind, willingness to reach out, willingness to laugh…and cry.

Howard died suddenly not too long ago. Even in his untimely death, Howard was generous. He reminded us to be grateful, to offer the higher part of ourselves to loved ones and life. He will continue to impart his wisdom for many generations. We love you, Howard…..

 

Remembering a Friend

By Jim Connolly

On July 23, 2020, my friend Nick Camp died in New Orleans after a fall from a building he had been working on for the past couple of years.  I was shocked.  He was 72, and we had been friends for over 65 years.  We met when we had both recently moved to the Long Island suburbs as children of 6 and 7. We had moved to our parent’s dream houses as part of the suburban exodus following WWII.  We spent a lot of time together both in and out of trouble as boys tend to do.  While we were in different grades and had other friends, we remained close until we both left Long Island as adults.  I went to college, dropped out and spent three years in the Army, almost two of them in Vietnam.   After learning a bit about how twisted the Army really was, I moved to California and later to New Mexico to acquire a B.A. and M.S. in Geology and begin my career at the University of New Mexico.  Nick went to the University of Chicago and later completed a Ph.D. in Chemistry and software development.  We both got married, had kids and did the family thing.  In the last twenty years we reconnected, and our wives developed a friendship as well.  They visited us here in NM and we visited them in Rhode Island and later when they moved to New Orleans.  Several years ago, Nick’s wife Jill developed a tumor on her kidney which has since spread throughout her body.  For Jill, losing Nick was particularly painful as he was her primary caregiver during years of treatments.  

Nick’s unexpected death shocked me.  Reflecting on our long friendship, I came to realize how much of who we are as adults is forged in the friendships we began as children.  What we shared was an insatiable curiosity about the world – how it works, why we do what we do, and where do our beliefs come from.  This curiosity was sometimes benign and harmless but sometimes also led to a variety of what would be considered trouble.  

Our first “trouble” occurred when our ages were in the single digits.  Nick’s parents had a nice Pontiac sedan that came with a cigarette lighter.  We discovered that when pushed in, it would pop out red hot and experimented with what kind of patterns you could make with a hot lighter on car seats.  This was our first experiment for which we were separated for a significant period of time to teach us this was NOT a good thing to do.  There were more.  

Early on as we were entering High School, Nick became very interested in chemistry, or more specifically the chemical process of blowing things up.  One of the first I remember was a mix of chemicals that got spilled on a cement patio.  For a week after that, walking on the patio with shoes produced small pops not unlike what comes out of a cap gun (very popular in the 50s).  Later, Nick acquired some nitric acid from a high school chemistry lab, and I got a bottle of glycerin from the drug store.  About 15 minutes after mixing them, some reddish smoke started to rise from the mixture.  Red smoke (we had read) was a sign of instability so we carefully tossed the smoking flask over the fence behind Nick’s house which enclosed a large storm water catchment basin (a.k.a. “the sump”).  The result was a large flash and loud blast.  Needless to say, we did not tell anyone of this incident, successfully avoiding consequences.  

Soon we took to going into the “sump” behind Nick’s house.  The purpose of the sump is to provide a place for rain water to go when it rained on the extraordinarily flat terrain of Long Island.  The water draining into the sump came from a network of drains on the streets that led back to the central part of town.  For much of the route, the tunnels were up to 6 feet in diameter.  We discovered that by the time we got to the center of town, the conduits were still 3-4 feet in diameter and easy for us to crawl down.  With our chemical expertise and new underground exploring skills, we hatched a plot.  We would make a really BIG smoke bomb, plant it under the center of town (where the train stopped) and set it off with a timed fuse so we could get out before it went off and watch the smoke come out of the drains near the center of town.  A home-made fuse passing through a candle-in-a-can did the trick.  We set it, got out and walked to the railroad station where we watched the town fill with smoke as people wondered what was going on.  Clearly it was a triumphant practical joke that worked and for which we never got caught.  A major success for the trouble-making team.  

Nick and I went off to college.  In college Nick took it all seriously, while I was looking for something more personally interesting.  My two years at college were an experiment in what I could do on my own.  I entered as a Chemical Engineering major and leaving almost two years later as “Liberal Studies” major with a very low G.P.A.  LSD and psychedelics were introduced to me by a slightly older guru who guided me through several sessions in which I was introduced a larger world of multiple causation, nonlinear thinking and the power of the mind and imagination.  This was a major game changer in understanding how the world and the mind work together.  

When Nick and I were home together one summer in the mid-sixties and I wanted to share the adventure of the psychedelic experience with my friend.  In the process, I learned that not everyone responds to psychedelics in the same positive way that I did.  I crushed up a lot of “Heavenly Blue” Morning Glory seeds (a source of Mescaline) and put them in gelatin capsules.  Nick and I took the Long Island Railroad to New York City, walked to Central Park and took the capsules.  I started to settle in to engage in what was happening.  Nick also relaxed, however, within an hour, he began to feel uneasy and anxious.  I tried to get him to relax and experience what was happening, but he became very agitated and insisted on walking off and not letting me follow.  Soon we became disconnected and I could no longer find him anywhere.  Eventually, feeling guilty, depressed and profoundly responsible for what had happened.  I took the train home and found out when I got there that Nick had been picked up by the police for sitting in the middle of 6th Avenue and refusing to get up.  His parents went to pick him up from Bellevue and bring him home.  This resulted in our parent approved PERMANENT separation.  Nick and I did not see each other again for years.  

Jumping ahead to 2014, Nick and I participated in the NMMW Fall Conference at Ghost Ranch.  We had long since allowed the psychedelic incident to fade and resumed our friendship.  Nick became an alcoholic and seriously wanted to stop his self-destructive behavior.  He joined an AA group and was making some progress. The timing on the NMMW conference couldn’t have been better.  The honest and non-judgmental feedback from other men helped Nick enormously.  One day at the retreat, we went for a long hike and when we got to a difficult spot Nick felt he couldn’t go on.  I started to go, but those old feelings I felt when I abandoned him in Central Park kicked in and I went back.  I shared with him the guilt I had felt for losing him in Central Park over 45 years ago.  I discovered that he never held any of that against me and was surprised that I felt guilty about something that he saw was not my fault.  After that it was clear that those skeletons were no longer hanging out in the closet.  

A couple of years ago I had taken on the job of ferrying my stepdaughter’s car from New Orleans to Oregon where she and our grandson were moving.  I invited Nick to drive with me on the trip.  He could not do the whole thing, but we did drive to Albuquerque together taking two days.  It was a great experience for both of us to really get to know each other as old-timers and revisit that mutual fascination about “how things work.”    

I will miss Nick very much.  It is sad that we cannot tell those we lose how much we miss them and love them.  If there is a point to this remembrance, it is this: Don’t wait to tell people that you love them when you think of it and think of it often.  

Web Insights- Do Not Miss!

Wellness, well-being and now, suggestions regarding coping with Covid-19 from Victor LaCerva at:

 myheartsongs.org 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VU9UGRBuPt8

Barnraising

This section is intended to hold a place for announcements of relevant events and happenings, as well as invitations for participation, support, in the fashion of pulling your neighbors and loved ones together for an old-fashioned barn-raising. Here are a few such items to prime the pump for the next edition:

 

Readers of Man, Alive!, this announcement is to inform you of the publication of  Brother Sunset, a new collection of poems by Raymond Johnson, published by Poetry Playhouse of Placitas, NM. You may purchase the book at Amazon or directly from the author. Send your request to rjriorancho@aol.com and include your street address. The author will be in touch with you.

 

Since CoVid 19 has finally been confirmed as being in NM, the Department of Health has advised against holding “big gatherings.”  Although the upcoming Bring a Buddy events in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe are not especially large, they do attract some elderly folks who may be at increased risk.

The NMMW Board has decided to cancel the Spring gathering at Hummingbird. Anyone who has registered will receive a full refund. If you want us to keep your scholarship donation, please let Jim Connolly know, and your refund will be adjusted accordingly.

 

The ABQ Bring a Buddy committee has unanimously decided that we should cancel future Tuesday evening Bring A Buddy events, starting with the April 7th event. Everyone’s physical safety is of upmost importance and we feel that hosting meetings would not be wise at this time. 

They will be in touch via email when it is safe to resume our events. Please be careful and we look forward to seeing you and your buddies in the near future.

 

The late May couples gathering is still a go, as is the summer gathering, and we will monitor events to decide if that needs to change.

 

Victor puts out short weekly free podcasts, and the last few have been on coronavirus—with his public health medical hat on in terms of what to expect and how to protect oneself and one’s family. If you wish to sign up, you can do so at myheartsongs.org  Proper hand washing is king! Social distance, or better compassionate spaciousness (6 feet) when prudent, particularly if you are over 55 with a chronic heart or lung disease. This is a lung disease: if you have a runny nose or nasal congestion with other symptoms, you most likely do NOT have coronavirus infection.

 

The Health Department has a toll free number if you have questions or concerns about getting tested. 855-600-3453

They also developed this questionnaire – designed to assist facilities with a large number of elderly – that may also be useful to help you “self assess” your current risk.

 

NEW MEXICO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
FACILITY VISITOR SCREENING QUESTIONNAIRE
 
In response to concerns regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019), and in accordance with guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), this facility is screening all visitors for certain risk factors before entrance is allowed. Facilities may restrict or limit visitation rights for reasonable clinical and safety reasons, specifically to prevent community associated infection or communicable disease transmission to the residents. See 42 CFR §483.10(f)(4).

 
QUESTIONS                                                                                          
1. Have you traveled internationally in the last 14 days to any country currently designated by the CDC as a high-risk location
for COVID-19*?

2. Have you had signs of a respiratory infection in the last 14 days, such as a fever, cough and/or sore throat?         
                       
3. Have you had contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with, or screened for COVID-19?
 
4. Have you traveled to another state with widespread community transmission of COVID-19 in the last 14 days?
   

Love and hugs and we will all get through this!

Your NMMW Board:

 

Mark Ayers Marc Kolman

Barry Cooney Victor La Cerva

Jon Driscoll Mark Pugsley

Roger Harmon Dave Robertson

 

LEGACY GIVING TO NMMW

Fed up with your nagging spouse, worthless children, and bratty grandchildren? Then why leave them all your money when you croak? Any NMMW man worth his salt would of course take full responsibility for anything not completely positive in his relationships!

Seriously, most of us would enjoy a lasting legacy to show that we have contributed to a cause that will benefit the lives of others for generations to come. A planned gift brings your thoughtful planning, vision and extraordinary generosity together in the form of a bequest, beneficiary designation on life insurance or a gift of art, stock, real estate or IRA charitable rollover to New Mexico Men’s Wellness. You can die knowing that your money will be well spent carrying on the good work done by the men you love.

You remain in control of your assets during your lifetime, it costs nothing and can reduce estate tax burdens. Bequests can be a specified dollar amount, a percentage of an estate, or tangible property. If you are considering this, it is important to notify our Board to ensure your intentions are understood and can be realized.

NMMW is a 501©3 organization and any gifts and bequests are tax deductible.

Our tax ID is 56-2503074

Thanks so much for considering!

 

 

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS!!

Celebrating Talking From The Heart, An Anthology of Men’s Poetry, the NMMW Board of Directors has authorized the publication of a “30th anniversary” publication of another New Mexico Men’s Book of Poetry.

This new anthology has a projected publication date of late spring, 2021. Consequently, this notice is the first call for submissions as follows: Poetry, Prose Poetry, Illustrations and Photography will be considered. Participants must be current or past New Mexico residents. 

Current themes considered for submission are:

Gravel and Grit

Joy and Laughter

Be Gentle, Be Kind, Be Strong

The Uninvited Image

I Grow Old

The Road Ahead

We reserve the right to publish and/or edit submissions. We also reserve the right to edit submissions. All copyright reverts to the author on publication. No fees will be paid to authors, and no submissions will be returned. Details regarding submissions (digital format type, length, etc.) will be disseminated at a later date.

We look forward to your submissions/contributions!

Please forward your submissions/questions directly to Hank Blackwell at: hbfire88@gmail.com

 

 

BRING A BUDDY

Albuquerque December Bring a Buddy The next ABQ Bring a Buddy takes place on Tuesday, December 1st. The topic for the December gathering will be: “Resilience and Support for Ourselves this Holiday Season: What We Might Need and What We Have To Offer”. This event will be facilitated by Steve Poland and Robert Younger. Please remember that the goal of Bring a Buddy is: to Bring a Buddy. This is your chance to help grow the NMMW network by reaching out to a male friend(s) who might benefit from spending some time with other men in a supportive atmosphere exploring thoughtful topics. If anyone has a want to share a topic and to facilitate an evening, please contact us. We look forward to seeing you in December as we prepare for the holidays and the New Year in a very unique environment. If you’d like to attend, please send me an email; I will send you the link to join us. Robert B. Younger (505) 250-1895 ryounger@galves.com

 

NMMW NEW WEBSITE

Tech Committee Forming Mark Pugsley seeks volunteers for our new Tech Committee. Duties include website management, social media, and Eventbrite. If you have a hankering for any of these things and want to hang out with other tech savvy guys, please email Mark Pugsley at mwpugsley@gmail.com or call 505.715.2011.