Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Today, my friend, who was kind enough to put me up when I had no home for rather longer than I fear he may have anticipated, told me something interesting. The exact quote was, “You’ll be happy to know that the cute blonde with legs up to her chin who lives in the middle apartment on my floor asked about you.”
That cute blonde (whose name I’m not sure I ever actually knew) moved in while I was living there. I remember her fondly, not because she’s a proverbial “cute blonde”, but because as she was unloading her truck, I couldn’t help but notice a milk crate full of LP’s. For those who do not know, LP stands for “Long Play”. It’s the old-fashioned vinyl record that predated CD’s and tapes. Heck, now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure they predated radio. In fact, I’m sure of it because one of the oddest mistakes Thomas Edison made was in not jumping into making radios, his logic being that nobody would bother listening to radio where somebody else is in charge of the music when they can just as easily put their own records on.
I did strike up a mini conversation with her about the records. I say mini because, at my age, trying to get into a longer conversation comes off as kidnappy and creepy. I still had to ask her about it, and we chatted for a minute or two about her records and college aspirations. I tried to leave the ball in her court as to if she wanted to speak further or not, and when. I’ve actually written about this interaction, though, because her male friend (maybe her boyfriend) stared daggers at me the entire time that we were chatting. Seriously, if he is that intimidated by me, what chance does he have in a relationship with her?
Still, it’s exceptionally flattering that she remembered me, and that she asked after me as well. It was such a trivial little conversation, but apparently, she remembered me. This is really a surprise to be honest, and a pleasant one at that. It serves as a reminder that, honestly, we never know how we touch other people’s lives. I don’t think my influence on her is so dreadfully deep that I’ve changed the course of her life, but I also am surprised that she remembers me at all. Apparently, I made more of an impression that I thought.
When I worked as the forensic lab director, I frequently stopped by a grocery store between work and home. With that job, I was making a significant income (and I’m terrible at saving), so every now and again, if somebody is behind me with only a few items, I would pick up the tab for them. Just a random act of kindness. It didn’t happen often, but it was just my way of spreading a little joy. One day, my video analyst stopped by my office and asked me if I buy groceries for people at that store. I responded that, yes, sometimes, and asked why. As it turns out, he was there and overheard a conversation between a customer and a person working there about this man who had paid for her groceries. From the description, my analyst thought that, surely, they were talking about me.
Were they? I don’t know. I’m not the only person who will periodically do something like that, but it’s nice to know that I have made a difference in people’s lives, enough so they do remember it and, apparently, talk about it. Although I fell very behind in my dues and may have been dropped from their roster at this point, this is why I enjoyed being a Freemason. Although they do philanthropy work, their focus is on the members themselves with a stated goal of making good men better.
The Masons do try to improve the world, but the way they do that is through their own actions. We try to live as model citizens for other people to see. That means we don’t sing our own praises, or preach philosophy, but we just try to show that we are Masonic brothers by action and deeds. The Iching entry “Wind” says that change brought about by slow peaceful actions are more enduring than those brought about by violence, in much the way mountains born in earthquakes give way to weathering and wind. You won’t notice it, but the change occurs. This is what I try to accomplish. Maybe, just maybe, I’m succeeding.