Our rings come with an opportunity cost. Of course, it’s easy to give a dollar amount to my ring (it wasn’t very expensive, but in case my wife is reading I’m not going to admit exactly how much), but it has cost me much more than just the money I spent on the afternoon I bought it.
Over the years, my ring has cost me quite a lot in dues payments to different lodges and other bodies. My ring has obviously cost me many evenings away from my family. It has cost me thousands of hours spent studying ritual work when I would have much rather been rotting my brain with television. It’s cost me biting my tongue when some idiot at the grocery store is annoying me, because if I said what I wanted to everybody would know that it was a Freemason who said it. It has forced me to re-examine who I am, and to make changes for who I hope to be one day. Without exaggerating, it literally cost my old identity, who had to die to make room for who I am becoming.
When I first bought this ring, if I had known the cost that came with it, would I have still purchased it? Since the ring is just a symbol, a reminder to me of my obligation, I suppose the question would be better worded thusly: when I first signed my petition, if I had known the cost that came with it, would I still have petitioned? I believe I would have, because the opportunity cost is far outweighed by the benefits that came from it, however I must admit that if the fraternity had been pitched to me in that way I would have definitely paused a bit longer before signing my name.
Even more noteworthy than the cost of my ring is its weight. My Masonic ring weighs 8 grams, according to my kitchen scale, but of course this tidbit of information is only interesting to the most obsessive jewelers among you, and “weight” in this instance is yet another symbol, because the true weight of my ring is unbearably heavy for a man to maintain by himself.
My ring comes with the weight of all of the brothers who came before me; I owe it to them to represent them well to the current generation, and to ensure that the solid foundations that they built are maintained for future generations to enjoy. It is weighed down with an obligation which demands I constantly seek improvement, leaves no room for excuses, and provides for the stiffest of penalties (symbolic though they may be).
I find that often, while I’m writing, I turn to the wisdom of The Beatles, and this instance is no exception; the second side of Abbey Road contains one of my favorite pieces of music, which is nearly sixteen minutes long (even if it’s listed as separate tracks, it’s really one large one), and contains some of the deepest lyrics that they ever wrote. In the middle of this fantastic medley are a few words that come back to haunt me in my darkest hours: boy, you’ve got to carry that weight a long time.