From the Archives: Day By Day, The Masonic Way: Disappointment

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Adam Thayer

Brethren, as I look back over the pieces I’ve written in the past few years, I see many things I’m very proud of. There were a great many papers on various topics, full of emotion and passion, but what I’ve found missing is what I would consider “solid” education, that is, a practical application of the instructions we are taught in our three degrees. Over the next series of papers I write, I plan to address that issue. I hope to be able to provide some solid teachings, and learn something myself in the process!

Many minds far greater than my own have written examinations of the symbols that are presented, and I promise that if you spend the time pouring over their writings you will find it to be a rewarding and enriching pursuit. Instead of retreading the words of our forefathers, I hope to break new ground by discussing the issues that face our brothers today. I won’t even pretend to be doing this for entirely noble reasons; to a degree (if you’ll excuse the pun), this is my attempt to deal with these issues in my own life and, through that process, find peace for myself.

Tonight, the issue that is most heavy on my mind is that of disappointment. Disappointment comes in many forms; maybe you didn’t get the promotion you deserved, or your team ended their season with a 6-7 record (I’m looking at you Cornhuskers), or maybe your evening just didn’t go the way you had hoped it would. Disappointment is a common human condition, however to dismiss it so easily is to downplay how absolutely crushing the experience can be when it occurs.

At its core, disappointment comes from reality not living up to our expectations. Perhaps our expectations were set too high, perhaps we ignored the reality of our situation, or perhaps the world is a complex, sometimes cruel place where things don’t go the way they should. Whatever the real reason, disappointment taken to an extreme can lead to severe anxiety issues, with sufferers going out of their way to avoid any risk that may lead to disappointment.

King Solomon knew disappointment; even with all of his accomplishments he saw failure after crushing failure, leading him to say “I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” King Solomon definitely had a flair for the melodramatic, however I believe we can all identify with the sentiment: after all of our hard work and effort, when everything comes crashing down around us, what is the point of our labors?

When faced with disappointment, my mind first goes to thoughts of the mosaic pavement. Being the representative of human existence, it is necessarily equally checkered with both white and black tiles, which we are taught is emblematical of the good and evil in our lives. It could also be said to represent our victories and our defeats, our joys and our disappointments, which equal out in the long run of our lives.

A man much wiser (and significantly cheesier than I) once stated that walking the mosaic pavement is very hard on the feet. This is most especially true when we’re face to face with our disappointments.

There is an insidious danger in disappointment: often, we turn to our vices to help ease the pain. Solomon turned to both wine and women to make him forget the suffering crush of his disappointments, and it worked… for a while. However, he learned what we all must learn: the harder you try to escape reality, the more painful it is when it reasserts itself. After spending many drunken years amassing a fortune filled with every pleasure money could buy, he found himself more emotionally destitute than he began.

Truly dealing with our disappointments head-on takes courage, but it also takes a humble spirit. It begins with accepting what has happened, which many of us have a very difficult time with. It also takes time, something that I myself have an issue with; we want everything fixed right now, not at some magical later date. Finally, it takes a willingness to learn from the situation, to prepare us for future storms.

Here’s a little secret from me to you: life is full of disappointments. Rather than letting them destroy us, we have the opportunity to learn and grow from them. If the human life is an alchemical process, then disappointment is the process which transforms our rough ashlars into perfect ashlars.

I hope you can learn to channel your disappointments into your passion; for me, that passion is writing, and the large number of papers that have been posted since my first guest post nearly two years ago is a testament to the disappointments in my life. For one of my good friends, he pours his disappointment into music, and has constantly improved his talent to a near professional level. Whatever your passion is, I encourage you to pour all of your frustrations into it; let them fuel you as you strive to become ever greater.

I won’t leave you with a banal platitude like “when one door closes, another one opens” (in the words of Bill Murray, just open the door, that’s how doors work), but I will tell you that I have learned this: life is like a beautiful jigsaw puzzle. You can’t start to make sense of it until it has all fallen apart.


WB. Bro. Adam Thayer is the Senior Warden of Lancaster Lodge No. 54 in Lincoln (NE) and a past master of Oliver Lodge No. 38 in Seward (NE). He’s an active member in the Knights of Saint Andrew, and on occasion remembers to visit the Scottish and York Rites as well. He continues to be reappointed to the Grand Lodge of Nebraska Education Committee, and serves with fervency and zeal. He is a sub-host on The Whence Came You podcast, and may be reached at He will not help you get your whites whiter or your brights brighter, but he does enjoy conversing with brothers from around the world!

1 comment:

  1. My ongoing and sequential disappointments with the Craft have pushed me upward and onward to the one place which I think actually makes a difference - - the "University" of the Craft - - Scottish Rite!

    S&F, Br. George Brooks, Holyrood Lodge, Tampa, FL


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