Visiting Home 4/16/23

Thoughts with Richard Bleil

We have, here in my current hometown, the haunted museum.  A museum with over three thousand haunted items.  This is the kind of thing that I truly enjoy, and yet, until my friend came to visit I never saw it.  Living in New York City, I never saw the Statue of Liberty except when I was a visitor to the city myself. 

I find I have a habit of not visiting the attractions near my home.  I do visit some, of course.  I have a membership to the zoo, open every day of the year except for Christmas, but have only been there a few times.  Maybe this isn’t common to everyone, but I think that, for me anyway, it’s always an attitude of “it will be there tomorrow” that prevents me from visiting.  Oh, I can usually find excuses.  It’s too cold, or too hot, or too rainy, or too busy, or I’m just too depressed, but the reality is this voice that just keeps saying it’ll be there tomorrow.

My friend, who recently purchased an ice cream truck business, told me the story of a child whose parents really didn’t have money for too many treats.  When the ice cream truck showed up, her parents would say, “if it’s here today, it’ll be back tomorrow.  We’ll get you an ice cream tomorrow.”  But when tomorrow arrived, along with the ice cream truck, the parents would again say “tomorrow”.  There came a point when the child, on hearing the ice cream truck, would simply cry, because “tomorrow” will never come.

Tomorrow will never come.  It cannot, because today isn’t tomorrow, tomorrow is tomorrow.  So, if tomorrow never comes, when will we visit the local park, or zoo, or museum?  When I joined the Masonic Society, there were many discussions about membership, and the struggles of it.  There was a time when it was estimated that about half of the male population was a Freemason.  It seems high to me, but one in four is not unreasonable.  One idea about why current membership is struggling is that of time, namely maybe people just don’t have time in modern society.  The response to this is something that I will never forget.

We make the time for those things that are important to us.

The Freemasons have a philosophy for the members.  God first, then family, then everything else, including the Masonic family.  Yes, there are times that things will have to take priority over membership, but for those who are active, they make the time because it matters to them. 

The simple concept that people make time for those things that matter speaks volumes.  The first and most obvious consequence of this is the immediate negation of the argument “but I don’t have time.”  Maybe, if you’re supposed to pick up, for example, turkey, you might not have time to do it today because your daughter is playing in the little league T-ball game.  That doesn’t mean that you’ll never have time, but rather that you have an immediate conflict of interest today and you are prioritizing your daughter, as well you should. 

The danger, of course, is that it also means that your choices reflect your priorities.  Had you chosen to get that turkey, it means that your priority is the meal, not the T-ball game, or worse, it means that your priority is not your daughter.  I have known couples that have split up because one or the other involved never seems to have time for their partner, and I understand that.  It means that the priority is never the relationship, or the family, or the significant other and that truly hurts.  I even have known couples that have stayed together, honoring the pledge to stay together “’til death do us part”, but the neglected partner has simply given up on the concept of a happy marriage, or being with a partner that sees them as a priority.  This breaks my heart.

But this also means that we can do something about it.  We can think about our own lives, and where we put our priorities, and ask ourselves if these are the priorities that we want.  Working matters.  We must eat, we must have housing, so yes, we must take time away from our loved ones to provide.  I get this, but is our career taking too much of our time away from those who matter?  And how do we spend the free time that we do have?  Are we pursuing our own interests, or are we with our spouses in a meaningful way?  Or are we simply occupying space with them in the house that our money bought?  Remember, we can always change our behaviors to put our loved ones in the priority list where they belong.

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