As the Coronavirus sweeps the nation and events are canceled, and many of us are working from home, we have to see this as an opportunity—especially for Masons. Sometimes we forget that being a Mason isn’t just about doing things—going to degrees, and meetings, and putting on events, and raising money for this pet project and that. There’s a personal growth aspect to the fraternity that many of us neglect. We’re so busy doing all the time, we never really get the chance to work on ourselves. We hear those words over and over again, but we never have the opportunity to actually think about them—how might I apply those concepts to my life?
So while we are at home, and the cabin fever begins to settle in (it has for me already and it’s day 3), instead of looking out the window longing to go to a meeting, take this opportunity to work on yourself. There’s a Japanese word “tsundoku” that I think has special meaning for me right now. Tsundoku is Japanese slang, and it refers to the practice of letting books pile up without reading them. It’s the combination of two Japanese characters—the one for “pile-up” and the one for “read.” I don’t know many Masons that don’t have a huge read pile they’ve been meaning to get to.
Why don’t you read them? What Masons seem focused on right now is figuring out how we can do virtual meetings. We can’t go a month without listening to our Secretary read the mail? What I did is I sat down last night and made a “Sanity List.” On that list, I wrote down a long list of books I have that I haven’t read—both on my library shelf, and books that have been sitting on my Kindle for a long, long time. I’ve started a list of article titles—I’ve been neglecting my writing for a long, long time. I put on that list household projects that I’ve ignored for a long time—Tuesday I finally took ten minutes and got the bugs out of the kitchen light. Whatever that list is for you, don’t waste the time watching Netflix or whatever. Here are a few ideas for you.
Start clearing that Tsundoku from your shelves. If you have time now and don’t read them, you never really wanted to read them to begin with. Give them to somebody that will read them.
Start a daily devotion. Whatever your beliefs, start your day over coffee and scripture. Think about those areas that you need to work on, and begin improving those areas.
Learn some ritual. Has there ever been a better time to sit down and begin learning that lecture you’ve always meant to get to, or that part you’ve always wanted to do?
Seriously look at your schedule. Over the last few days, I’ve realized there are way too many unnecessary meetings—meetings that we are quickly finding out could have been an email. Look at where you’re spending your time and your energy and ask yourself if there are things you’re expending energy on that would be better used elsewhere.
Those are just a few off the top of my head. But make use of this time—don’t squander it away. Don’t look back at this season as a missed opportunity. Make the best possible use of it. This could be a turning point in your life. This could be your reset button. This could be an unprecedented opportunity to look at yourself, look at your life, look at where you’ve been and where you want to go. An opportunity to work on yourself, learn some new skills, chip a few chunks off that rough ashlar. Many of us don’t know how long this will last—maybe a short time, or perhaps a very long time. It doesn’t really matter how much time it is before we return to normalcy—what’s important is to use it to its full advantage.
Todd E. Creason is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog.