Living Life To The T
By Brother Anthony Hawthorn
Address at Lodge De Goede Verwachting
15 January 2015
A man is always at risk of breaking under the force of life. As an Apprentice, one is taught that life will be a struggle. In this paper I reflect on whether these struggles lead a man to reach his breaking point, or if there are hidden costs to some of the choices he makes. In my discussion I draw from a diverse set of ideas and use the symbol of a T to illustrate these ideas in practice.
The second journey teaches the Apprentice that life will be a struggle. The thoughts of this paper are a collection of insights and associations that have come from reflecting on the meaning of this principle. My thinking has been shaped by a combination of basic physics, an Apprentice’s understanding of Masonic symbols, and life experience.
I begin with an image that is made up of several Masonic symbols: The plummet, which in building allows for a pillar to be placed perfectly upright. The level, which ensures that the cross piece that rests on the pillar is perfectly level. Lastly, the right angle, which is formed by the perfect adherence of the upright to the plummet and cross piece to the level.
If the cross piece is centred to the upright the result is a T that is in perfect proportion. It may be important to note that when this perfect proportion is achieved, the upright’s ability to carry the weight (or the cross beam) is maximized. Throughout this paper I will make reference to this image as both a symbol and guide to how we carry the struggles that are an inherent part of our life.
To deepen the discussion I introduce the mathematical formula for force. I will the apply each of its variables to the symbol described above. Force is determined by taking the mass of an object and multiplying it by the rate of acceleration.
(F=M x A)
“Force” in this instance will represent the unavoidable force that the struggle of life exerts on each individual. For the current purpose we shall refer to it as the force of life.
This presents two questions. What determines the force that life exerts on each individual? And, secondly, is this force avoidable?
The answer to the second question is fairly simple: some struggles (forces of life) – like loss, illness, pain, rejection, disappointment or death – are unavoidable.
To answer the first question we need to consider the two variables that determine force. The first of these is acceleration. When considering the force that a mass exerts, acceleration remains constant and equates to the gravitational pull (9.16 miles per second, for those who are checking that I did my homework). The acceleration that gravity exerts on a mass is a given, so it is that in life there are struggles, difficulties and dangers that are simply part of the human experience. We can no sooner avoid them than we can negate the effect of gravity. Therefore if acceleration is a given it leaves only mass that can be manipulated in measuring the force of life.
Unlike acceleration, the amount of mass we accumulate in our life is a choice and not a given. In the pursuit of comfort, recognition and acceptance we make choices that increase the mass of life. Take for example an upward progression in the work place that comes with increased means and statues. The price, however, is an increased time commitment which means less time with you family, added responsibility and greater accountability. We may then choose to live in a better home, drive a better car, or associate with a more elite circle of friends. Each choice exponentially increases the mass that an individual carries.
Going back to the symbol of the T. Gravity is represented by the constant downward acceleration that is exerted on the cross piece. The density of the cross piece represents the accumulation of mass that an individual chooses to take on. So we know that acceleration (struggles of life) is a given variable, whereas mass are the things that we choose to take on in life. Solving the equation reveals that the force that life exerts on the individual is simply a multiplied effect of the mass (choice) and acceleration (constant). Therefore the more mass we choose to add to our lives the greater the downward force that life will exert on the individual.
Force of life = struggles of life x choice of mass
The formula itself appears so simple. To relieve the force that life exerts on the individual simply reduce the mass that we choose to take on. The reality however is far more complex. For many, myself included, a large amount of that mass we carry becomes part of who we are and a symbol of what we have achieved. For example my job promotion might mean that I’m not as incapable as my parents, teachers or other significant people always said I was.
This brings me to a discussion on how the individual who cannot reduce the mass still has a choice in how they carry the load. Consider, for a moment, the symbol of the T. The T’s ability to carry the load of the cross beam is a result of several factors. If the upright is centred to the load then the cross piece will balance and the force on either side will be equal. So to if we look within ourselves and find our centre and let that guide us to the centre of the load that we carry we can maximise our potential to keep everything in balance. If the cross piece and the upright meet at a right angle, the upright has maximized its potential not to buckle under the load.
As an apprentice I was instructed to stand squared off and always walk in accordance to duty and rectitude. When we are truthful and honest with ourselves and others our ability to carry the load becomes firmer. The meeting of the cross piece and the upright at a right angle is also determined by the straightness of the upright. In life we have a choice to be upstanding in all our trials. Our ability to carry the load will in part be determined by if we choose to be perfectly upright in how we face the struggles of life. When we fail to centre ourselves to the load the weight on one side or the other becomes too heavy to carry.
In a world were failure or weakness is not an option we seek crutches to prevent everything from falling apart. Those crutches may take many forms alcohol, drugs, antidepressants, work or even social status. Regardless of the crutch, the further one moves away from the centre, the greater the force of life becomes and the more crutches will be needed to compensate.
Brethren, as an Apprentice these remarks are representative of the direction of my apron. This paper is simply a reflection of my own process. As I seek to know myself these are the ideas and images that have aided me on this journey. If anything that I have said can benefit one of my brethren then this is the first step in being true to oath that I took at my intuition. I thank you for the honour that each one of you have awarded me in patiently allowing me the space to share my thoughts with you.