Forgive me. I can’t resist the view from the balcony. Even on a rainy day. Yesterday the brilliance of the sunshine and the effulgence of the blue sky were remarkable. But we all need a break. Even from the good stuff.
When it rains one has occasion to contemplate. Without having to participate. Rain magically incites intellectualism. And growing older excites the mind to capture as succinctly as possible refinement of thought and intellectualism.
Though I am reluctant to overstate my insight into the meaning of life and the manner of its conduct there is I find much to be gained by what as a young man I learned from Freemasonry. This by no means limits or concludes my opinions of the topic but it is a start. Attached is what might be called a part of Masonic ritual. For many years it was my privilege to address the assembled brethren in open lodge with this ritual upon completion of the annual election of officers.
The Masonic ritual reminds us of the things in life which are by comparison to most broader, deeper, more resourceful and overall important. Looking back on life as one is inclined to do at 75 years of age is if nothing else an exercise of distillation. Yet from the many things we recall the more impressive and fruitful recollections are those which surround what are inevitably simple, direct and incontrovertible. Unless you’re looking for a fight or to win, life is surprisingly easy. Permit me if you will to list in summary form what I have learned:
- Family counts. You will never succeed to remove yourself from its influence or its perceived burden. Make your peace as soon as possible. If not it will torment you to the end of your days to no avail.
- Less is more. Avoid accumulation of things because you’ll only end having to get rid of them. What you really like (which is always by nature dissected and minimized) you’ll end up keeping and enjoying without regret.
- LIsten to your gut. The cerebral function is nothing but a manipulation of instinct. Failing fully to absorb your instinct, or contaminating it with unrelated rationality, will both confuse and protract any remedy. Don’t let yourself being caught saying, “I knew something was wrong!” without having responded to the threat.
- Square your actions. This is a direct theft from Masonic ritual. Avoid ambivalence.
- Meet others on the level. Another Masonic adage. We’re in this together.
- Life is a mystery. We’re all on a voyage into unknown territory.
- Listen when people talk; and look them in the eye. This will not only make the conversation more nutritious, it may also invite the narrator to solve their own dilemma if any. And there is an equally good possibility that you will avoid giving untimely, unwelcome or unnecessary advice. If anyone wants your opinion, he or she will let you know.
- Believe what you see. Don’t be persuaded to abandon your insight by peripheral circus performances. If you don’t understand what’s being said, believe what you see until a more convincing solution is spotted.
- You are a product of your environment and background. There is nothing innately Canadian, English, educated, middle class or liberal about you. You’re an “acquired” feature. But use it to your advantage because believe it or not it’s a singular ingredient. It is besides part of your capital you’ll never escape or disguise. Your heritage and upbringing are both your tatoos and baggage.
- Enough of fretting about religion. Religion like most things is only persuasive when it works. For some people it works.
In the contemplation of these weighty and seemingly enigmatic points do not be persuaded that your own account of either fortune or misfortune entitles you to less perspicacity or resolve in these pursuits. Fortune and misfortune are both nothing more venerable than a mere fortuity. Remember too that the weather changes. The clouds disappear; the blue sky brightens; the river glistens.