Learning to Love Men I Might Not Necessarily Like – In Tribute to David Woititz
By Howard Spierer, Mid-Atlantic Region
On November 9, 2015, the men of the Mid-Atlantic Region had the opportunity to have closure with one of their own. It was a beautiful display of the power of a circle of men.
David Woititz died unexpectedly of a heart attack on the evening of October 23, 2015. I honestly hope that when I go I am so lucky. He died on the eve of a reunion offsite he had been responsible for planning for 20-plus graduates of the Sterling Men’s Weekend. He had just completed dinner at a restaurant with two teammates, and they were hiking back to their cabin at Camp Glen Gray in Mahwah, New Jersey where Dave had spent his summers as a kid.
He was “home” with his men on a beautiful Fall evening. As they ascended a hill, he stopped for a moment and fell over. He was dead before he hit the ground. He was 53 and single. He had been in and out of our circles since 1996 when he completed his point program. He served on production in many capacities on men’s and women’s weekends.
Like any human he had his stuff, but he had a tremendous heart, was insanely bright and quick-witted. He could be stubborn and outspoken, but he never seemed to take any of it personally. He was very proud of the fact that he often rubbed men the wrong way. I was one of those men. I don’t think we ever agreed on anything beyond the value of having a men’s team and “trusting the men.” But I loved Woy deeply because he could be trusted to show up exactly as he was: authentic and passionate and committed to his own truth but not so blind as to shut off the feedback of those around him.
The impact he had on those who knew him was evident on November 9 when more than 50 men showed up along the Hudson River, some travelling from as far away as Baltimore to share their Words for Woy. Not all of it was glowing, but to a man everyone acknowledged that his life was better for having known him and now there was a void that would not be easily filled. Woy was a champion and advocate for what we do. He was also a victim of a pitfall many of us suffer. He was so damn good at lauding over the greatest of others that he failed to fully embrace and celebrate the greatest within him.
He is missed but will not be forgotten.
For Dave Woititz … and Everyone
By Dave Rudbarg, Mid-Atlantic Region
I’m going to the funeral of a 53-year-old man this morning, and that’s not okay with me – and it’s not just because of his age.
It’s because he was, at his core, a mensch – a good and decent man who loved people, brought joy to the world, and meant well. He was also passionate about his opinions and was overt about his likes and dislikes – and sometimes, I personally found being with him difficult, as there was one thing we disagreed about.
What we disagreed about … was him. I cared about his health, even at a time when I also deflected others’ concerns about my own. I guess when I tried to express my concern it rang hollow coming from someone who had had yet to break through in that area himself. Sadly, I never reconnected once I did begin to break through. Duly noted…
I cared about his longing to find a partner who would cherish him, honor him, and actively engage him in growth. I cared about his search for an expression of employment which was a match for his heart and mind and which would enable him to not only be abundant in resources, but in feeling that his job mattered.
These are conversations that many of us have … need to have … or wish we could have with each other – while some of us avoid them at all costs.
We all play both roles. Maybe the lesson from his passing is for each of us to be willing to quietly, privately ask for and grant permission to someone – finally – just one person to start with … to go there. To have a vulnerable, open conversation about ourselves – to allow someone access to truly help us shift something – even if we can’t see it ourselves.
Here’s what I’m really asking today.
Trust someone – not for the difference it will make for you. (Note: It may not be anyone you actually know right now) But do it. Do it for the difference it will make for them – in letting them know they mattered. Because when you know you matter – everything else begins to matter as well.
And life shifts. And you become present.
And that’s a legacy worth leaving.