Thursday, May 23, 2019

Something To Think About . . .

I couldn't have said it any better myself . . . in fact, I've said this a few times but not as well.  I used to say that Freemasonry's best advertising was its members.  In the social media age, I think that's working against us.  Let's remember who we are when we interact with the world . . . and try to remember that when we represent ourselves as Freemasons to the world, each of us represents ALL of us.

~Todd E. Creason, 33°

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Who Are You Really?

The hardest person to be honest with is yourself . . .

Billy Graham frequently said that if he was given ten minutes with a man's checkbook, we could tell where his heart was.  What people say means very little.  That's not new, even Benjamin Franklin knew that when he said, "Well done is better than well said."  If you want an accurate gauge of what a person is about, watch what they do, not what they say.  Your heart is where you spend your energy, your thoughts, and your treasure.  

We live in a world of virtue signalling.  We always have, but these days, it's just a lot more obvious because it's easier to check facts.  I'm not reminding you of this so that you can point at other people.  I'm reminding you of this so you can look in the mirror and see it in yourself.  

Do your actions match your beliefs?  Do the things you say match with the things you do?  Do the causes you support and the organizations you belong to share the values you claim to have?   Do you let outside influences convince you to support things you know are fundamentally wrong?  Are the things you spend your time and treasure on fall in line with the things you claim to support?

Too often when we really look honestly at ourselves, we find there are some inconsistencies in our life.  It may be because we're trying to be something we're not.  What we're showing on the outside doesn't match what we really believe on the inside.  The question is, are the conflicts because you're hiding who you really are because you're ashamed of who you are, or are you proud of who you are, but project something else to fit into an environment that doesn't share your values?  Either way, what we should do is to work very hard on ourselves, so that what we actually are matches what we claim to be.  That we either work on those weakness and flaws we're hiding, or work on being more honest with those around us in who we actually are.  In a perfect world, we should always be working on both--what's inside us, and what we do with that in the world outside.

Building character is hard.  It requires change.  It requires us to be absolutely honest with ourselves, and that's hard, because we lie to ourselves more than we lie to anyone else.  Virtue signalling is not a character trait--conviction is.  Anyone can pretend to be something they aren't, but character is foundational.  It's who you really are.  People of character are consistent in the things they say, the things they do, and the things they support.  People of character not only talk the talk, but they walk the walk.  And people of character continue to work on themselves throughout their entire life because they are always striving for a better version of themselves. 

~Todd E. Creason, 33° 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Olivia De Havilland: The Last Of Hollywood's Golden Age

As a classic cinema fanatic, I was saddened with the passing of Doris Day this week.  She was certainly a class act, and her squeaky clean screwball comedies are something I still enjoy watching from time to time.  And she was also a terrific singer.  Her first smash hit "Sentimental Journey" was able to perfectly capture the feelings of millions of service members, and their families who remained at home during WWII. 

There are fewer and fewer of the classic actors and actresses left, but many of you may be surprised to learn that one of these classic actresses from Hollywoods "Golden Age" is still around today.  Olivia De Havilland was 102 on July 1, 2018, and is quickly closing in on 103!  She starred in more than 49 feature films in a career that spanned more than 50 years.  Some of the movies she was in are legendary today--movies like "Gone With the Wind" and the original "Robin Hood" with Errol Flynn.

Longevity must run in her family--her sister, also a famous actress, Joan Fontaine, lived to be 96!

Olivia De Havilland and Clark Gable in "Gone With The Wind" circa 1939
I always enjoy watching her in the original "Robin Hood."  Few people may realize that the horse she's riding in that opening scene later became famous in his own right--the horse named "Golden Cloud" at the time of the filming of that movie, was later purchased from the studio by an up and coming young actor.  He renamed the horse "Trigger" and Roy Rogers and Trigger entertained an entire generation of children (and quite a few adults I would image).

I'd always hoped the one day Olivia would write her memoirs.  There are many biographies about her amazing career, but she's never shared her own personal perspective (other than in interviews) about that amazing period in cinema history.  I think the stories she could tell about the people she knew and worked with would be an amazing read.

~Todd E. Creason

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Cutting Out The Noise

I was one of those people that woke up in the morning and grabbed my phone.  Before I'd even get out of bed, I'd checked my messages, my email, the weather, and the key social media platforms.  I'd go get my coffee and turn on the television to watch the local news and weather--make sure my app was right about the weather.  Coffee down, and shower time, radio on listening to music and DJ.  Car ride XM radio blaring all the way.  I get to work, and first thing I do is turn on the radio, and check all the stuff I've already checked again because I was in the car for 30 minutes (actually I'd start that process walking up the stairs to work).  I walk my lunch hour every day, plugged into either music or more often than not a podcast or some kind.  Same on the ride home--radio blaring.  The minute I walk in the television goes on--national news.  And the television stays on until it's time to write--then the radio is on in there.

I couldn't figure out why I was so overwhelmed all the time.

Several months ago at work, our computer system went down.  No computer access.  No wi-fi.  Nothing.  People came out of their offices--a few of them I didn't know still worked here.  They were very upset--they couldn't do anything!  It was like the second ice age had come along.  The younger members most especially were very anxious--what's wrong?  How long is it going to last?  Is anybody trying to fix it?  When will it be back up?  And I don't blame them for being anxious--it had been off for nearly five minutes at that point.

They wanted us to call somebody--our phones are computer based, so they were down, too, and nobody had the phone numbers in their cell phone because those work numbers are in the phone network database.  There was almost a panic--a couple people even left!  I work at a large University and outages like that just don't happen very often.  It's very, very rare.  But it was the end of the world . . . it last nearly 35 minutes.  Then everything came back on again, and all those people plugged their earbuds back in and retreated to their spaces as if nothing had happened.  Like retreating zombies.

That got me thinking--something that I realized that day I hadn't been doing very much of.  I turned off the radio in my car on the way home that evening.  I didn't turn on my television when I got home either.  I started leaving my phone alone until I got to work in the morning--on the weekends, sometimes I even LEAVE IT AT HOME when I go out if you can imagine that.  I started putting some limits on my social media time.  That's been six or eight months ago, and it's one of the best things I've done for myself in recent years.  I've even gotten rid of my online calendar for my personal life--that calendar was sending me reminders constantly.  I can't really get rid of it at work, but I definitely didn't need that after 5 PM.  Just more constant distractions.  I've gone to an old school method--that bullet journal I've written about a few times before.  Simple.  Easy.  Doesn't buffet me with reminders that after awhile I tend to disregard anyway.  I decide what goes in there and what gets scheduled (nobody can add to my calendar or see when I'm free or not free).  And it has made it so easy to see where I'm wasting time on things that don't add any value, and where I'm spending time on things that do.

I just don't need all that stuff.  And I've learned I don't benefit from that constant stream of background noise and static.  I don't have to be doing something every minute of the day, and I certainly don't have to be entertained every minute of the day.  And while that silence used to bother me and I'd reach for that phone, now I look forward to it.  I use that quiet time to think, and it's amazing just how many simple problems I've solved in that quiet time that were bothering me to no end before.  And I think more and more people are beginning to understand this every day.  Looking back it's not wonder I had so much trouble from time to time getting to sleep and staying asleep--it was the only quiet time I had when I was plugged into something, listening to something, doing something, or entertaining myself with garbage that didn't add a thing to my daily life.

We've been programed to believe that we have to stay busy every single minute of the day--and that's simply not true.  We weren't designed that way.  We need time to work, but we also need time to relax, unwind, and reflect--that last part is what we're missing in the information age. We need time to think through issues.  We need time to determine a proper course of action--whether career, personal, or even deciding where to have lunch. 

Try it.  Once you've finished reading my article (of course), turn off your computer.  Go outside and take a nice long walk with no music and no phone.  Or just take a few minutes and stare at the ceiling and think.  There's a good chance that your head is so full of stuff you haven't processed or worked out, the first few times you do this you aren't going to be able to think through any one thing on your mind.  That's the way it was with me.  But the more you do it that clutter finally dissipates.  The more time you spend in your own head, the better you will become at thinking your way through many of life's problems . . . without the the aid of soothing music, social media, or the internet.

I think the part that surprised me the most is just how cluttered my thinking was that first few weeks--fifteen years or so of constant bombardment had left me seriously lacking in the ability for clear thought.  That's not the way I've always been.  For me, that was all the proof I needed that all this background noise I've gotten so used to in the information age has been detrimental in just as many ways as it has been advantageous. And another advantage at least for me as I've intentionally unplugged for network addiction--I sleep like a rock.  No more week long bouts of insomnia.

God gave us these magnificent brains--it's really all we need.  Technology is a wonderful tool, but not as wondrous as the human brain, and it certainly isn't a substitute for it.  What's inside our skulls is who we are--not what's inside that phone, or stored on a network.  We can live without technology, but outside of Washington D.C. you simply can't live without a brain. 

~Todd E. Creason, 33°
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