Monday, November 12, 2007

Process and Product

It seems that most of my current interests stress process over product. That is to say that the act of doing the stuff is as important or more important than the end result. It seems so, but probably isn't.

In fly fishing, hunting for the spot, being so intimately aware of nature, hunting for the fish, and the mechanics of getting a good cast hold great satisfaction. Catching fish make it more fun, but that isn't necessary to the enjoyment. I practice catch and release, so the process is really king. And then there's tying the flies. The itty-bitty details, striving for your definition of perfection (I don't try to impress folks, just fish) and handling the beautiful materials are fun. There is a product to admire at the end, so it's hard to say whether the process or the product is more important here.

Freemasonry is about process. Most of what we do is processing. Ritual, education, even business meetings. Social events, table lodges, refreshment after labor. All of these are processes that hopefully lead to a good product. A good man. Even the production of a good man is part of the process of a good society and a good world.

Applying ourselves to the itty-bitty details of Ritual: making sure that the physical space is right; making sure that the space is secure (tyled); and making sure that we know the steps and the words. Getting lost in process can be meaningful itself. And we need to keep the product in mind as well.

Our Past Grand Master in Maryland, Ronald Belanger, pointed out that the Perfect Ashlar in our lodge isn't as perfect as it can be. If you rub your hand over the surface of the most perfect stone, you still feel roughness. It gets finer over time, but never entirely smooth.

It is important not to lose sight of the fact that all we do is process. There must remain a difference between what is and what should be, or we stop growing.

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This blog is the thoughts of a Freemason. It's not affiliated with any Masonic body, and doesn't speak for Freemasonry in any sense of the word. My purpose is to raise questions, not dictate answers. If you read this blog, please comment; please subscribe, so we can look for answers to these questions together.