John Galusha: My Remembrance of an Extraordinary Man
On the morning of October 23, 1996, my best friend and partner for sixteen years, John Galusha, passed on. In a life dedicated to helping others, John not only touched the lives of thousands of people, but he also had a profound affect on all who knew him, whether they knew him well or just briefly. I do not know of a single person encountering John whose existence was not bettered through their association.
John Galusha was born seventy-seven years ago in Pueblo, Colorado. He was raised on a farm, in a time and community where life was simple; where people were not sure where their next meal was coming from let alone have the comforts that so many of us now enjoy. One either worked on a ranch, a farm or in the local steel mill. Life was hard, but nothing hardened or embittered John. He took pleasure in all things around him. With great interest he drank in everything. I know this by the way he would talk to me about that period of his life.
I remember John once describing the making of barbed wire at the steel mill, a subject that I would have previously found completely boring. Yet the way he talked about his experience I found myself not only interested, but actually fascinated. It was not so much the subject, but the enthusiasm with which John observed the world around him that intrigued me. The overpowering image I got from his stories was of a strong, lean, tough young man who embraced life; whose attention was ever outward, and not stuck in the introverted “head chewing” that so many of us spend so much of our time doing. But what interested John the most was people. John loved people. He enjoyed watching them, listening to them and observing them; but not from some judgmental perspective. He was like a child watching a butterfly.
In the methodology of Idenics, a system that John and I developed many years later, the cornerstone of the subject is its nonjudgmental application; something that takes most practitioners a while to gain proficiency at doing. How John was able to do this so effortlessly has always amazed me. The application of Idenics is just an extension of the way John was naturally. He operated this way before Idenics, not only in the previous facilitations that he delivered, but also in how he dealt with people in life. He did not have to learn to be this way or to discover it. It was the way he always was. But it took time for him to recognize something that was as natural to him as breathing; and then learn to communicate this to others living in a world where such an application is so unnatural – so alien.
Having such an intense interest in people, John could not help noticing the misery and mental anguish that people were experiencing and he wanted to help. But part of his unique character was that he did not consider that he knew anything about people. This consideration, as well as his non-judging attitude may be in part attributed to the fact that John did not have much personal reality on the mental difficulties that most of us experience. I remember once talking with John and bringing up for discussion the struggles people have with what others think about them. He said that he was aware that people had such issues, but at the same time he had trouble imagining this problem since he had never experienced such a condition himself. I recall being severely taken aback by his casual comment, and remember thinking to myself, “What planet is this guy from who’s never experienced feeling bad about what others thought of him?”
Wanting to help people but not considering that he knew anything about them, John looked to others for answers. Perhaps someone else knew what made people tick, and he could learn from them how to help others. John then embarked on a career that would span the next forty-five years. He learned all that he could, continually applying what he had learned to assist people. John learned and mastered a particular alternative form of therapy that came into broad popularity in the early 1950s. He had great success with it and became a widely respected leader and teacher in the field, working at the center of the movement. He and his new wife Millie ultimately returned to his home state of Colorado, where John established and ran his own training and counseling practice for many years.
I met John in 1980, although I had been aware of his reputation and accomplishments for almost ten years. I went to him and asked for his assistance with a project that I was working on. He agreed, and we began a very special partnership and adventure that would continue for the next sixteen years.
My father once told me that a partnership was the most difficult relationship to maintain; even harder than a marriage. I do not doubt this as I have seen the trials many people in partnerships have had to go through. But I feel blessed in this regard. In the sixteen years that I worked with John there was never any real disagreement, argument, or upset. He did his job and I did mine.
I always completely trusted John to do his job. I not always trusted the way that I was doing my job, but somehow John trusted me. I cannot tell you the number of times that I confided in him about doubts I had in my work, desperately wanting advice. But never did I get feedback or advice. That sort of help or opinion was not in the man. What I got was a question; a facilitation that encouraged me to take a look, and things got better.
I realized early on in our relationship that John was a very rare individual. I knew that it was not only a privilege to know him, but an honor to be able to work with him. I knew that I might accomplish my purpose of helping others by connecting up with this unique person. I believed that if I could create an environment where John could do his work, unabated, then great things might be achieved. This proved to be a correct action. John blossomed and made astounding breakthroughs. Unfortunately, at the time of his passing, the magnitude and results of his work have only begun to be realized in the world. But I will continue to do my utmost to communicate with, service and deliver to people only in a manner true to the integrity of John’s work.
John Galusha was a simple man. He had his simple pleasures in life. He liked reading, and read a lot, gobbling up nearly everything he could lay his hands on. He immensely enjoyed working with his hands on almost anything from fixing an engine to welding a several ton piece of machinery, and was always interested in how the material things in this universe work. He did not strive for wealth and success or for fame and recognition. He really did not care about any of these things. But what he did care about was his life’s work, which was helping others.
In all the years I knew John, he never had a vicious or bad thing to say about anyone. Sure there were things people said and did that he did not agree with, but not once did I hear him verbally attack any of these individuals. Among all the people I’ve known in my life, I have never met anyone as devoid of ego as John Galusha. John would never have said this about himself, which just proves the point.
Looking back, I can see that John tried for many years to prepare me for his leaving. Eight months ago John became unexpectedly ill. Those close to him tried desperately to figure out what was wrong and help in his recovery. John accepted all assistance graciously and without question or resistance. He also accepted his illness in the same manner. He did not complain, nor did he desperately seek to find an explanation or cure. For those who were trying so hard to get him well, his laid back response to his sickness was a little puzzling, and somewhat frustrating. But I can see now that at the end of John’s life, his concern for others was as unwavering as it had been throughout his life. He let us scamper around, doing what we had to do; allowing us to prepare, each in our own way, for his eventual passing.
It is never easy to accept the loss of someone you are close to. A quick and unexpected passing can spare an individual the pain of an impending death, but it can also be quite a shock. I once asked John for some advice on raising children. What he told me was one thing that he had done as a parent. He said, “I tried to always take those actions that I thought they would best respond to.” Perhaps he also tried to accomplish this with the people he was leaving.
From time to time over the past few days I would find myself weeping. Partly I cry out of loss of my friend. But most of all I cry because of the deep and profound affect that this wonderful man has had on my life. I will greatly miss you my dear friend, and I wish you the very best.Mike Goldstein
25 October 1996