Thoughts with Richard Bleil
My friend Dean often reposts my blogs on his social media page. It’s a great honor for me that he not only reads them, but that he finds them worth reposting as well. He doesn’t repost all of them, mind you, which isn’t really a surprise to me. My regular readers all know that sometimes I’m pretty much “out there”, but we do seem to be on the same page on a lot of things.
I met him when I was with the Masons, which makes him my Masonic Brother. He was a pretty high ranking official and came out during my “rising”. I always liked him. He’s very friendly and easy to speak with, and I instantly felt a connection with him. His gentle and calm demeanor would make pretty much anybody feel comfortable with him, no doubt. The Masons are a “fraternal” organization, meaning there are no women in it (save one chapter). I don’t mind this. No man can be a successful Mason without his lady giving her support (or to be more inclusive, without his partner’s support). And the wives (or partners) can participate in other ways should they desire to be so. Honestly, I don’t mind this (although it was my largest criticism when I began) because the stated goal of the Masons is to make good men better. It’s the only such organization that is member centric, rather than charity (although the Masons do marvelous philanthropic work as well). If we flipped it, and there was an organization for women with the goal of making them better, how would they feel if it was a group of men helping them to improve themselves? So, with the stated goal of the Masonic organization, it seems reasonable to me that it is fraternal.
The Iching, a book of ancient Chinese wisdom that goes hand-in-hand with Taoism, it states that in order to improve, it “helps to follow the great man”. Following the example of a good man, aspiring to be like him, is the best way to stay focused as one strives for self-improvement. Dean is my guiding star. We don’t speak often, at least not in person, but he is a great role-model even if he is not aware that he is as such in my eyes.
By now, assuming I haven’t lost you already, you might be wondering what all of this has to do with a post on the New Years. Tonight, millions of people will be celebrating the end of 2022, and ringing in the new year with midnight kisses (which I won’t get) and champagne toasts (but I don’t drink). Along with the celebrations come the traditional New Year’s Eve Resolutions.
The start of the New Year is a good time for people to reflect on the previous year (although I tend to save such reflection for my birthday because, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m kind of a freak). Its time to think about what went right, and what went wrong. What did we accomplish that should make us proud, what could we have done better, and how can we improve in the new year. The culmination of such reflection is the list of resolutions that we will do differently for the next day or two until we break the resolutions that we swore would last all year.
Personally, I don’t make resolutions. I’m constantly self-critical and if there is something that I feel should be changed, I change it. I just don’t believe in waiting until the proverbial new year’s starters pistol. My guiding light in these reflections are friends, like Dean and others, who have qualities that I admire and aspire to reach. Holding myself up to others who seem to have those qualities that I admire the most is my best way to achieve self-improvement.
Whatever traditions you hold, however you choose to celebrate the new year, I wish you all the best and hope that it’s a great celebration, and that 2023 will be your best year yet. Yes, we can expect ups and downs, mind-numbing highs and earth-shattering lows, but overall I hope that your highs far outweigh your lows, and that overall, as you look at your process the next time the new year rolls around, I hope you’ll be proud of the growth you have seen in yourself. And to my friend Dean, thank you for being my role model, and I want you, and all of my friends, to know how much I appreciate you. Without you all, I am nothing.