In Memoriam to Bruce
Bruce M. Di Marsico, the creator of Option, died Monday, December 4, 1995, after a long illness. These articles were were written by friends in loving memory of Bruce. Some of them were originally published in the IOMA newsletter. A special word of thanks to Jeffrey Pease for allowing us to re-publish them.
Remembrance - by Deborah Mendel
Several friends asked me to write something about Bruce for this issue. I had mixed emotions. What could I say? Where would I begin? Should I let Bruce speak for himself? Where would I end? Well, I will try, my friends, for you.
Bruce was an extraordinary man, teacher, friend, husband. He was out of this world. He was down to earth. He loved to love. And his greatest joy came in sharing the truth he realized about why people are unhappy and the simple tool he created to help people with their unhappiness—what he affectionately called the “second best method” for becoming happier, the Option Method. Sitting by his side for over twenty years in his groups, classes and workshops, I never tired of his lectures. To see him interact on a personal individual level with a student or friend was always a joy and many times, an awesome experience.
He would often tease his students by saying “I’m only saying the same thing over and over again.” Yes, he was. He had one simple truth to tell but each time he explained it, it was as if he had just breathed life into it for the first time. As Jayne Gombach (one of his last students) would say “I know you’ve said this before, but this time I hear it.” This time she heard not just with her ears, but in her heart.
That is the beauty and the gift of what Bruce has left for us. By understanding through the Option Method that we have been “merely believing” we have to be unhappy (sad, angry, worried, nervous, etc.) we can come to know, in our hearts, what Bruce knew. That . . .
As I sat thinking of what to say about my memories of Bruce, my mind ranged over the years and the many wonderful things he had said that were so incredibly clarifying and insightful. I recalled the moments in his kitchen speaking about really nothing much at all: what kind of day it was, the best recipe for tomato sauce, how he had tried to get his garage roof fixed so many times, the fun he had zipping along the highway in his classic Stingray Corvette, the subtle techniques for finessing the appropriate bet at the craps table in various gambling casinos, the wonderful companionship of dogs, and his many adventures and misadventures over the years with them.
In brief, what Bruce was about most of the time was the pure zest of life, eating, laughing, joking around and pursuing a vast range of topics from everyday life with an ongoing, honest surge of wonder and excitement.
He was blunt and straightforward, but always in a way that was respectful and to the point. He never felt obliged to explain himself in the slightest, and yet he would spend whatever time it took to explore his motives and the responses of others in the service of helping them clarify some possible unhappiness they were experiencing. It was not obligation, just part of his joy of being with people that he cared about and talking about what he enjoyed most talking about: being happy.
And always, always, I felt this enormous stream of kindness and compassion emanating from him. If there were times when I didn’t sense it, I would soon discover it was because I had cut myself off from the experience of it by some unhappiness of my own. It was an adventure to become gloriously entangled in the web of agreements and disagreements with him over this never ending feast of topics, from the sublime to the ridiculous. I came to realize that it was playing; being human and entering the “sand box” of discourse with Bruce was a way of understanding why the Option Method was so simple, so free of “ways to be” and complicated rituals, steps and exercises to “self realization.” Life was always here and now and happiness was always here and now whether you were talking about happiness, the concept of evil, the origins of the universe, or what olives were best with such and such a dish, gaeta or kalamata. There was never any “preparation” to be happy. There was just happiness.
Which brings me to the final part of this reminiscence. What precisely was so special about Bruce? To be sure, he had an inimitable style of presenting Option and of querying people about their unhappiness. It was unique and in the total context of who he was and how he was will never, to my mind, be duplicated. But there was something more profound for me. It wasn’t so much what he said to me, but the realized presence of someone who was totally comfortable with my being as happy as I would allow myself to be, without exception. He was in that sense a totally different creature and I am only now beginning to understand the profound implications of his way of “being in the world.” In my experience, never have I met someone who so completely had divested himself of the assumptions of culture so that joy, peace, happiness were utterly agendaless and without any boundaries whatsoever.
For him the freedom to be and to be happy stretched beyond space and time without restraint. There were never any questions about you, but only about why you would hold yourself back from being happy NOW! Initially I balked at the great chasm of awe that his presence represented, but being with him, like a flower in the presence of the sun, I felt the fullness of that freedom without restriction for the first time. Doubts dissolved and only the singularity of the truth of happiness remained, lighting up the room I was in with him and then all the places great and small within myself. That enormous intensity of utter and absolute “okayness” about being whoever you were and reveling in your happiness without having to be any other way “in order” to merit or “deserve” it is the fondest remembrance of Bruce, one for which my own tears of gratitude flow freely. Thank you Bruce!
Frank Mosca is a long-time student of Bruce Di Marsico and the author of two Option books.
Memories of Bruce - by Mandy Evans
Bruce Di Marsico taught me how to be happy. Before I knew him it was a chancy thing, an illusive experience that didn’t happen often or last long. Every day I use his lessons to help me swim against the tide of belief in un-happiness in which we live.
Near the beginning of our friendship Bruce came to my house for dinner. We had spaghetti with my son, Barnaby who, at 3 or 4 years of age, was not known for his good manners. He insisted tenaciously on his right to march to the beat of a different social drummer. He wouldn’t say hello or goodbye, even to people he really liked. My attempts to explain that people perceived his communication as hostile meant little or nothing to him. He figured it was their problem.
I was definitely concerned about this dinner event. We were meeting at my house because I had very little money and there weren’t a lot of baby-sitters eager to take on Barnaby and bedtime. When I served dinner, Barnaby asked Bruce in a voice I could never describe (words like pleasant do not apply), “Can I eat it on your head?”
Bruce answered without missing a beat, “Will you use a plate?”
The baffled Barnaby said yes. I stood amazed as they worked out the details between them and Barnaby climbed onto Bruce’s shoulders to take several bites of spaghetti from a plate balanced on Bruce’s pate. Then he got down.
After dinner, as I cleaned up, Bruce and Barnaby went into Barn’s room. I heard them talking. Barnaby was showing his books. Bruce asked, “Does your Mommy read to you a lot?” “Yes,” Barn replied. “Does she play with you?” “Yes,” the conversation progressed. “I guess your Mommy does a lot of nice things for you.” “Oh, yes. She does.”
There were tears in my eyes. I hadn’t known how much I would like hearing those words—how moved I was to have someone help my son to notice in such a happy, sweet way what I did for him.
Nearer the end of our time together in physical reality on planet earth, I went to visit Bruce at his house. He was in great pain from many severe health problems. We talked and had lunch together. He gave me an Option session. He said he wanted me to know how he worked. I had never experienced an individual session with Bruce, only classes and groups.
Then my friend Anne Grete arrived to pick me up. She waited until my session was over then came in to visit with us for a few moments. She had met Bruce before at a class he held for my students in Ulster County, NY, before I moved to California. They chatted about where she lived (New Jersey) and why. Anne Grete said she guessed she had stayed in Ulster County where she was born for so long because she was scared to leave. I didn’t even notice the assumption of fear, but Bruce did. “Or,” he said with that twinkling little smile I loved so, “maybe you just never had a reason to leave.”
Anne Grete’s face lit up as she realized the truth being told. She had never been afraid to leave Ulster County.
I never spent time with Bruce without uncovering another unhappy assumption. I relished that moment of surprise at having missed the belief, like the moment when a missing puzzle piece jumps out to become so obvious! These beliefs about un-happiness are so imbedded in my concept of reality, of how it is. And I am so grateful for the abundant opportunities to find them and to watch them turn into sources of amusement before my wondering eyes.
I remember you Bruce, with love, with gratitude and with happiness. I hope you are happy too and free from pain.
Mandy Evans was a member of the Bruce’s original Option group and is the author of Emotional Options and Travelling Free.
Letter dated 12/21/84
Bruce, our dear, dear friend . . .
Through the years, your “gifts” have been plentiful, yet incalculable—since, through them, we have had the opportunity to re-weave the very fabric of our lives—in every way.
There will never be a way we could demonstrate or give ENOUGH to fully express the extent of our appreciation and gratitude for your existence . . .but we do experience it for ourselves every day of our lives!
All light & love, Bears & Samahria
“Bruce left an indelible impression on me. Time with him was mystical and transforming. His truths a simple soothing balm. He could cut through a lifetime's worth of gnarled rooted anguish, and redefine what was and is, in a completely different way. I traveled through his eyes, and his voice as he spoke ageless wisdom, guiding me through myself, and changing me forever. A powerful man with a profound gift.”
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