A Reflection on Change
By Brother Dirk Lombard
Presented on 19 January 2017 at Lodge De Goede Verwachting
I was standing in my living room in Newlands. I was busy preparing for the Ritual Excellence Program the following day. I read the following phrase from the Apprentice Degree ritual:
“Calmly he looks about him. Whatever may happen to him, he more and more appreciates the great gift of Providence, his existence on earth and in his soul, he discovers a Light, previously unobserved by him, the symbol of which preceded you on your journey.”
It was in that moment that I knew a major life change was imminent.
I don’t deal well with change. Those who know me well know that surprises are not welcome if they don’t come in wrapped boxes or colourful envelopes. I have been called a narcissistic control freak. I remember telling the person that one does not say “narcist” but “narcissist”.
I was at the peak of a wonderful period of stability. Life was good. I stayed in a lovely home, had a wonderful group of friends, people I could love, people I could trust. People who loved me. People who trusted me. Work was comfortable and rewarding. I woke up with a smile most mornings, depending on the strength of the coffee or the extent of the excitement the night before.
My contract with my employer was coming to an end and I knew that major life decisions had to be made. Decisions over which I only had partial control.
I believe in fate. Said belief has been criticized by many as an escape mechanism. A tool to shift responsibility away from myself onto some unknown force. A false measure of reassurance. I still believe in fate. I have also been called obstinate.
After much consideration, I made the decisions I had to make. It was now up to fate to determine the outcome. Life continued in oblivious bliss. Everything was well. Everything was under control. Under my control.
The call came at two o’ clock one morning. I uttered only two sentences. “Thank you” and “I understand”. I ended the call and collapsed onto the floor. I cried myself to sleep. My whole world as I knew it, was no more.
I spend the biggest portion of the following day sitting on a rock next to the ocean. It was at my “safe spot”. The waves crashed against the pier at Kalk Bay and I could hear people’s laughter as they enjoyed breakfast at the Brass Bell.
I knew that change was inevitable. And I cried some more.
I was about to embark on a new journey.
I question most things in live. But life itself and my purpose therein is the one thing that I question most. I once asked my dearest friend how I could find the courage to be true to myself, even if I’m unsure of who I am. His answer changed me and the way I viewed life forever.
“You just plough forth, confident in who you are at that moment, whether true or not, whether perfect or not. That courage is rooted exactly in the understanding that who we are, who we truly are, is a journey and not a destination.”
It has now been four months since that fateful day, and I have had much time to reflect on my life and my discontent with many of its aspects. The majority of my musings have been focused on my resistance to change.
I am not quite settled yet, but I have come to a number of conclusions.
Progress is impossible without change. Nothing changes if nothing changes. Yes, I was comfortable, but I was static. My academic acumen remained virtually unchanged, my hunger for professional growth insatiable.
But I was scared. Most of my decisions up until this point of my life was directed by my fears. Life decisions should be directed by our hopes, not by our fears. We should not be living a defensive life.
I realised that despite my less than ideal situation I still had the ability to step forward. To move closer or to move away. To change place, to change position. To speak up and to ask. If I never asked, the answer would have always have been “no”. I have learned to act. Because action changes the status quo.
I have realised that us humans are peculiar beings. We are very prone to self-destructive behaviour. We like to make ourselves victims. We often orchestrate our own suffering. I realised that I should stop looking for happiness in the same place that I lost it. That I had to stop focusing on what I had to give up, but rather direct my attention to what I had to gain.
It is indeed true that a lot can happen in a year. And it is true that people mainly change as either the result of learning a lot or having been hurt too much.
I’m sure that this new journey will bring its combination of tears and learning, but hopefully I’ll be able to look back onto my life twelve months from now and be able to report back that Providence has provided, that my existence on earth has made a difference and that the light shining inside me has enabled me to start new conversations, initiate new friendships, strengthen existing relationships and facilitate those changes that really make a difference. That never stops giving. That never stops believing and that always motivates.
That brings change.