Tuesday, April 22, 2008
On health and wellness...
The Masonic fraternity teaches that the 24-inch gauge is a symbol of temporal moderation. The time a man has in a day is finite and when he excessively focuses on one aspect of his life, the other aspects of his life suffer. This lesson is one of the first taught in the lodge and is perhaps the most readily disregarded. Typically, Masons are doers and givers. Our calendars are full with events, degrees and meetings. We give to others liberally, sometimes at great expense to ourselves. Masons want to change the world and build a better tomorrow. This new spiritual building must be built brick by brick, stone by stone.
Unfortunately, while we devote our mind, body and soul to the principles of Freemasonry and give to the world ever drop of energy the Grand Architect has bestowed upon us, we often neglect our own lives. For some brothers, their marriages may become strained from too many evenings and weekends away from home. For others, their jobs may suffer from being too tired after several long nights.
I, too, am guilty of not heeding the lesson of the 24-inch gauge. For the past several years, I have been running myself ragged. As a student, I typically took the maximum number of credits possible, while working and being very active in the lodge. On average, I would leave the house at 7:00 am and not return until 11:00 pm. Since I have graduated, I typically work 60 hours a week and am still active in the lodge. I combine these responsibilities with my duties to my family and my volunteer commitments. Due to this, I have adopted several bad habits in terms of eating and resting. I ate too much fast food, candy and caffeinated drinks to keep up my energy. I didn't sleep very much and was overly stressed all the time. The lesson of the 24-gauge was lost on me.
Last Friday evening, I received a rude awakening that my lifestyle had to change. I stayed late at lodge with my wife for a Wii night, where some of the younger guys got together with some of the DeMolay kids and played video games. Like normal, I had candy, pizza and a large amount of diet soda. When we got home, I stopped to see my mother. In passing, I mentioned that I have been very thirsty lately and have had to frequently urinate. My mother, having diabetes, recognized these symptoms and made me take my blood glucose level. It was 430 mg/dl. This is well above the 120 mg/dl my blood sugar should be. I looked through some materials on diabetes and it appeared that I had all the symptoms of a hypoglycemic event. Yesterday, I went to the doctor's office and was diagnosed formally with Type-II Diabetes. I'm 28 years old and diabetic. My doctor told me that I am on a crash course for disaster if I don't change my lifestyle, because I also have hypertension and high cholesterol. The perfect storm.
So what does this have to do with Masonry? I always had the opinion that I had to spend every minute of my day learning, helping and doing. However, without taking the time for refreshment and sleep, the body can not survive. If my lifestyle kills me, then I can't help anyone and I can't change the world. Many Masons live the same life that I live. We have huge hearts and sometimes forget that you must take care of yourself, before you take care of others.
The three symbolic degrees of Masonry are representative of youth, middle age and death. For years, I lived like I was young. I believed my body was impenetrable to the vicissitudes of poor living. I did not give heed to the lessons of balance and moderation taught in the Entered Apprentice degree and because of this I was given a glimpse into the lesson of the last degree of ancient craft Masonry. We are all mortal. We will all die. But it is our choices that decide how we live.
Symptoms of illnesses are a gift from the Grand Architect. It gives us a chance to ward off approaching danger and listen to the lessons he has presented us in this world. Last Friday, I was given a second chance to steer my ship in the right direction. I hope that I will have the strength and willpower to live life in a healthy manner, so I can continue doing the good works God has presented me with.