Without scruple or diffidence

scruples
a feeling that prevents you from doing something that you think may be morally wrong;
In common terms, conscience is often described as leading to feelings of remorse when a person commits an act that conflicts with their moral values;
connected with principles of right and wrong behaviour;
Middle English scrupil, scriple, from Anglo-French scruple, from Latin scrupulus a unit of weight, diminutive of scrupus sharp stone

diffidence
Shyness (also called diffidence) is the feeling of apprehension, lack of comfort, or awkwardness especially when a person is around other people;
Middle English dyffidence, borrowed from Latin diffīdentia,from diffīdent-, diffīdens “distrustful, DIFFIDENT”

It is a well known construction in Masonic ritual that describes the manner in which the operative masons received their wages from King Solomon; namely, “without scruple, well knowing they were justly entitled to them, and without diffidence from the great reliance they placed on the integrity of their employers in those days”. Basically they did and received something unhesitantly and unabashedly. Overall it smacks of entitlement; viz., “I have a right to it and I deserve it!” In the context of Freemasonry it is a convenience of the fraternity that each of the brethren is eligible to take the title or label of the highest degree. It is not however a mark deserving of privilege or special treatment beyond the ceremony attached to the office itself. Nonetheless it is undeniable that though that prerogative is a licence equally shared among the brethren – and thus affords all the similar opportunity of advancement and exposition – there are those whose performance is singular.

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It is imperative to interrupt this impartial discourse for a more partisan exegesis; and that is to relate my baptismal swim this afternoon in the North Atlantic Ocean. My initial objective late this morning was to sunbath by the pool then chance a dip.  But the pool is closed for maintenance until Friday.  So instead I bicycled to Tower Beach where I anticipated to lay by the dunes in the glorious sunshine. For whatever reason I chose not to linger by Tower Beach and moved on towards Sea Pines Beach Club.  It was probably because the low tide was attracting me (I had seen others cycling along the shore so I knew the area was passable).

Tower Beach is around a bend in the eastern shoreline of Hilton Head Island.  The area of the bend narrows the breadth of the beach by a small margin but one which impacts the seclusion I prefer along the dunes.  Accordingly I cycled further beyond Tower Beach than I had originally intended.  At last however I spied a small incline into the dunes which was in the much wider part of the beach and which was outside what apparently had been an uncommonly high tide (the sand was still slightly greyish and damp). I lay down my bicycle and spread my beach towel upon the sand. Then I collapsed on the towel and removed my shoes, socks, fleece and white linen shirt.  This suntanning project was going to be serious business! With all this gear now laying about me I had no trouble securing a place for my iPhone, lip balm and spectacles.  Then it was prolongation directly into the blazing orb over the vast blue sea and the distant horizon.  I must have slept or dozed and faded in and out of reality for about an hour.

When I sat up to gaze at my surroundings I could not escape the Ocean before my eyes.  Something compelled me to make a choice.  For too long I had imagined the impending necessity to initiate my acquaintance with the North Atlantic Ocean.  It was not something I could under any circumstance ignore before heading back to Canada.

For most people standing up and going to the lip of the Ocean would not entail any great complication.  Not so for me. Standing upright is for me a signal accomplishment. First contorting my immobile legs to put on my boat shoes is an effort. Then to have to decide what to do with all the clothing I had previously removed for the short trip from the dunes to the sea. And to attempt to give it all the appearance of regularity if anyone were watching the old fogey struggle. Though I was able to stuff most of the superfluous material into the basket attached to the handlebars of my bike, one of the the stems of the basket has become detached so I suffered the risk that the entire device would choose this window to collapse.

I managed to mount the bike with my ruffled baggage and headed to the shore.  As I approached the water and the rolling waves upon the beach I had to decide how close to detach myself from the bike and where precisely to abandon it on the shore as I began my aquatic projection. At this juncture I believe the thought occurred to me to wade into the water sufficiently to proclaim that I had indeed touched the salty grail with my toes.  But I knew the ceremony required submersion. Such is the nature of lustration and regeneration!

The fear which attends the prospect of submersion in the North Atlantic Ocean on March 2nd on Hilton Head Island derives I believe from the well-founded suspicion that the event may resemble wading into a large tub of ice cold water. This was not the case.  Certainly the water was cold but I did not sense the immediate freeze of my limbs as I proceeded into the depths. Then I plunged!  There!  I had done it!  As is my custom I opened my eyes under water to give them what I perceive to be the saline benefit. The water was murky – a green, brownish mixture – no doubt responding to the turbulence of the waves.

I swam back and forth parallel to the shore for about ten minutes or more, repeatedly submerging myself.  This rite of passage was no perfunctory experiment.

It was an act of propriety only which withdrew me from the sea à côté ma bicyclette. At 73 years of age I wanted to avoid the dreaded “chill” that can so often contaminate an otherwise innocuous pleasure. I had at last the gratification of having subdued Goliath and having expiated whatever guilt threatened my sense of personal entitlement. I could now face my universe and “fulfill the hope of reward that sweetens labour” without scruple or diffidence.