After being a member of Personal Mastery Group for 10 years, Matteo loves the brotherhood, which he says goes beyond just the fellowship he gets from weekly participation with these men. These brothers who he loves, have been vital to his survival since being released from prison in Albany where he received training from Mankind Project men in accountability, clearings, and other men’s work, becoming a Primary Integration Training (PIT) leader on the inside. This unique perspective he brings to his circle, while keeping his fear on the tip of his warrior sword.
Matteo told me the long version of his life story. Growing up in Malden, a suburb of Boston, as a member of a musical family following in the Catholic charismatic renewal movement of the 1970’s, he became a solo trumpet player, and attended Plymouth State College in NH (now Plymouth University) initially to study trumpet, and to graduate with a composition degree after receiving one-on-one attention from the professor running his program. After graduating he took a job at Boston University as production manager for their classical music school where he oversaw staging, lighting and sound. He still gets complimentary tickets to Tanglewood and sometimes takes his PMG circle on a Tanglewood outing.
After five years he received his master’s degree in music from BU and then moved to NYC where he worked with Charles Marotta, a gold record producer as a recording engineer. Within a year he opened his own studio and ‘made a ton of money’ producing hip-hop music albums and events. He also married and had two children, bought a house, did touring with his own band, and then 9-11 happened and his life came apart, filing for bankruptcy and finding addiction, and eventually ending up in prison in Albany.
He claims that his inability to manage his life was the result of the absence of a men’s group in his life. He remembers when experiencing at 16 the death of his grandfather, who was like a father to him, since his father, was absent from his childhood. Keeping vigil as their loved was in a coma, his family sang Set My Spirit Free. “His eyebrows went up, he started moving his mouth as if he had seen something or was trying to say something, then a tear rolled down his cheek and he breathed his last,” said Matteo. He continued, “My prayer was God, I want to know you like my grandfather knew you.”
His experience in Boston was always supported by a Christian men’s group, yet he never found such a had a support system to help him through the challenges of life in NYC. Then while on the inside, the way Matteo refers to his experience in prison, David Karp and Jim Post, two MKP men taught him how, as he explains, “to wrestle with his shadows, not to reject them, but to accept them as coming from a broken dark place that is part of who I am.” He even wrote a song called “Dancing with My Shadows” which he says he will soon produce again now that he has left the inside.
He did an initiation inside the walls that included face painting and drumming. Then he became one of the primary facilitators of circles in the prison. His favorite MKP experience was creating sacred space in that prison using sensei questions. The clearings they did were very powerful for him, because those men came from such broken lives and were so angry. After the learnings he received from these sessions, he was able to be a better father for his children.
His own father, having become sober, made the commitment to ensure that Matteo’s children would be able to visit him in prison, making the trip from Boston to NYC to Albany and back on a weekend to make this possible regularly. This was healing for Matteo because not only was his father now being there for him, but also, he could be there for his children.
Matteo explains that his ex-wife would tell his children about the dangers of being in a prison. On one visit his son was visibly panicked. His father asked him why, and he explained that he was scared. In response Matteo told him that he was proud of him because he demonstrated courage by coming to visit him in prison. This clearly changed his sense of confidence. Matteo says, “This is how I imparted masculinity in my son.”
When he left prison the first thing, he did was find a Christian men’s group and an MKP group. He has been with Personal Mastery Group (PMG) ever since as the result of a referral to Jeff Bean with Jericho Circle. The circle has kept him accountable and has helped him “bail water from the lifeboat he was in.” He returns that blessing to the men in his circle.
With that support, it took him a while to get used to living in the real world, as employers will always do background checks, and the choice is never the man who has done time. He did eventually start his own business again as an audio and video engineer, for clients like MIT and BU, and though he thought it would never happen, he is married again. Listen to Matteo’s music. His children have graduated from college programs. His daughter with a sociology and psychology degree due to her interest in counseling people in prisons. His son with a two-year community college degree, now attending MKP circles and even visiting PMG. They are the reason he pulled through the darkest times of his life in prison, and he feels blessed by them.
When asked with what famous person would he want to be stranded on a deserted island, he said Mother Theresa. Apparently, a friend of his had faxes of hers, through which he got to know the way she saw divine joy to be key to existing on earth. She would write, “You no smile, you no work for me.” Matteo explained that when you have nothing left to give and you still keep giving, you find divine joy. He wants to be around people with that as their focus in life.