Wednesday, December 26, 2007

We all shine on: Chris Garlington

Here is a special holiday episode of "This is Who I Am," where readers tell us about themselves. Thanks for writing, Bro. Chris.

It’s late on Christmas day and, after the party people and elderly aunts and conspiratorial teenagers have all said their Merries and vamoosed, I’m left here in a sea of wrapping paper and cracker crumbs. My kids won’t fall asleep; and Santa keeps walking into the living room and giving me the hairy eyeball because the kids are calling each other room to room arguing about whether or not he’s real; I hear “Sarah’s on Eye Em” rejoined by “Am Not!” which begats “Are So!” and on and on and I’m seriously considering kicking the presents out into the snow. But I’m waiting on the room-to-room to die down and I have to do something so I’m telling you who I am. Grab some nog and read on.

I’m a writer. This means that I’ve written this sentence about eight times, getting about [here] in every iteration before deleting the thing and starting over. I can’t tell you how happy I am merely to get past that second bracket with some kind of idea about what it is I want to say about being me. I spend most of my time doing that, knocking out seven or eight words then deleting them, then getting another nine down and deleting six of them, and so on until an hour or so into my day I’ve got a good half a paragraph of correctly spelled, well-placed nouns and verbs on a page which, sometime around two, I’ll delete.

I’m married to a hotshot attorney which is very much like being a single parent. I get them to school, clean, write, do laundry, get them home from school, wrack my brains over 5th grade math, cook supper — picture your mom but with a killer vocabulary and backhair (if your mother actually had back hair, I extend to you my sincerest apology — I meant no offense). I’m kind of like Erma Bombeck but with testicles and beer which means I might miss a meeting once in a while to take a kid to basketball, play practice, singing lessons, math club, anime club, Scouts, the library, soccer, drum lessons... The list is nearly infinite. I do find time to write my lodge’s blog, their articles for Temple Topics, and somehow threw together a passable Christmas party this year.

I find Masonry to be a brilliant idea. Regardless of whichever historical point of origin you subscribe to, some time way back when, someone laid down this system by which good men are received to become great men. A lot of crazy people on the internet spend a little too much time trying to figure out what great occult secret we have going on, what magic ring we all get to wear that unlocks the door to the deep and dazzling rooms full of treasure that makes us all rich and I can only respond to them by asking them, politely, to wear less tinfoil under their clothes and, please, take me off their spam lists.

I think what is most brilliant about Masonry is the expectations that are clearly laid out in the first degree. I might be prejudiced because this is the first thing I learned for ritual work and I treat it like my little baby but it is amazing when you think it through. It is such a simple idea: brotherly love, relief, truth; and anybody with access to the internet or a library can find these ideas expressed in countless systems and institutions throughout recorded history. And a good man might decide to live his life this way and I am certain that many do, and do it well. For me, however, it is the charge to live my life under this simple code that makes the difference. It is one thing to decide to be good. It is quite another to formally promise that behavior.

That, my tinfoil wearing friends, is the nut of it. No occult tricks are going to make anyone’s life sparkle with gold. No secret handshakes are going to get us that much farther than we’d go otherwise. It isn’t the rings or the jewels or the coded phrases at the company Christmas party that make Masonry such a successful program. It’s the work you do to follow those simple three ideals, the humility that comes from subduing your passions, that makes you able to wisely step around the pitfalls that some men fall prey to. That and the spaghetti dinners before lodge.

— Bro. Chris Garlington

To submit your own "This is Who I Am" essay, read this.

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  1. Death by Children

    I enjoyed your article this morning.

    Ultimately isn't all about each one of us striving to be a better person?


  2. nail on the head, my friend, nail on the head.

  3. So... does Chris have a blog? if so, would you mind posting a pointer?

    What has Chris published?

    Where is he from?

  4. Bro. Chris,

    God love you --you made my day with your writing. I had the experience of reading some major BS today about me and fellow Brother and this really help me to subdue.


    P.S. "Erma Bombeck but with testicles" ROFLOL!


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