Occasionally I find myself occasionally jaded or even burned out by disappointment. This might be disappointment in others’ actions or maybe lack of actions I expected. Sometimes I just get overextended and have to refocus on why I decided that sleep and health were more important than getting that last email or spreadsheet completed before bedtime. This leads me to a sometimes rather negative perspective of questioning myself as to why the responsibility lies with me? Why can’t others just simply do what’s expected of them?
Disappointment can be a downward spiral, and I am blessed to have had good role models and mentors that took time to demonstrate both responsibility and how to adjust our outlook when negative events occur. I like to think of it as childlike wonder mixed with gratitude. The childlike wonder comes and goes, and gratitude simply takes practice to change into habit. Doing things for others simply because you see the need, being the responsible adult without asking for recognition, that is the lesson of building internal character.
The wonder of the world through the new eyes of a child never ceases to be amazed. Discovery of new things, learning something fun and making a game of it, finding ways to play, to create, to become whimsical may seem far away or not. I remember my childhood playtime and reading time, not so much the individual events but more the general feelings of happiness and contentedness, simply escaping in my own mind with fantasies of driving fast with model cars or reading books until my eyes were filled with sleep. I remember the feeling of internal happiness and pride I felt when I was recognized by my parents or friends as being helpful and appreciated.
We learn gratitude in many different ways. We often learn of it in church reciting or listening to prayers of gratitude to Deity. We learn to say please and thank you with intent and meaning, not just for polite society. Gratitude extends inwardly with lessons of turning pride into gratitude as can be examined through the Masonic lessons of Charity/Love. That in itself could be a paper or even a book topic for those studying psychology. I learned the lesson of gratitude from a dear friend and mentor through of all things, just a simple passing comment. He simply said, paraphrased, we need to remain grateful for all things, and that gratitude leads to love and wisdom.
Wow! That struck me like a lightning bolt. Gratitude leads to love and wisdom. The simplest of phrases, yet the impact was felt at my core as I realized the connection between my own humility, gratitude, and the paths that open with remaining humble. I reflected in childlike wonder at that powerful message, and I still use gratitude and humility as a base for my meditations. Am I worthy to even be writing this to you? No, but maybe not for any expected reasons. I can only open the veil into my own life or experiences and humbly offer my thoughts and expressions. I can only do so with the hope, the childlike wonder, the gratitude felt, while connecting and maybe helping others on different places we share as we climb the mountain together. My own honest reflection into my experience connects with some, connects with different people differently, and so will your own experiences connect with others. I learn far more from reaction and interaction after I write these than what went into the writing.
Freemasonry teaches the lessons of humility, gratitude, love, and wisdom. These lessons repeat in the degrees, lectures, and charges. The opening and closing of the lodge reminds us of gratitude and focus on internal reflection, and we are repeatedly reminded that we are all on the way toward perfecting our ashlar, not that we have perfected it.
We as Freemasons use the symbols and working tools for a mental focus toward perfection, and we must be vigilant that we don’t hold ourselves on any pedestal for others to emulate; we must keep our egos in check. We must not fall into the trap of grandstanding our views to others while we still have much work to do internally. That trap starts with: “Why am I having to do this?”
Take a moment to stop, look someone in the eye, and say please or thank you, or you’re welcome, with focus and intent. Let’s break that down into actionable pieces. Maybe we go through a door at a local business, and we hold the door open for the next person behind us. Maybe we catch the door that was held by the person ahead. Expressing gratitude takes no real effort, but maybe it changes someone’s day. Maybe that person ahead of you or behind you is having a rough time, and simply taking a second to look them in the eye and thank them lifts their spirits. Maybe you’re opening the car door for your wife. It doesn’t matter if the other person even acknowledges your action because you don’t do it for their reaction. Do it. Say it. Mean it. Put focus behind it. Walk the walk of gratitude, humility, and find ways to help others even through simple intent of please, thank you, and you are welcome. Reflect upon your actions while never losing that childlike wonder of discovery.
Randy and his wife Elyana live near St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Randy earned a Bachelors Degree in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry, and he works in Telecom IT management. He volunteers as a professional and personal mentor, NRA certified Chief Range Safety Officer and enjoys competitive tactical pistol, rifle, and shotgun. He has 30 plus years teaching Wing Chun Kung Fu, Chi Kung, and healing arts. Randy served as a Logistics Section Chief on two different United States federal Disaster Medical Assistance Teams over a 12 year span. Randy is a 32nd degree KCCH and Knight Templar. His Masonic bio includes past Lodge Education Officer for two symbolic lodges, Founder of the Wentzville Lodge Book Club, member of the Grand Lodge of Missouri Education Committee, Sovereign Master of the E. F. Coonrod AMD Council No. 493, Co-Librarian of the Scottish Rite Valley of St. Louis, Clerk for the Academy of Reflection through the Valley of Guthrie, and a Facilitator for the Masonic Legacy Society. Randy is a founding administrator for Refracted Light, full contributor to Midnight Freemasons, and an international presenter on esoteric topics. Randy hosts an open ongoing weekly Masonic virtual Happy Hour on Friday evenings. Randy is an accomplished home chef, a certified barbecue judge, raises Great Pyrenees dogs, and enjoys travel and philosophy.