My vision of my identity may not match the reality. But that's OK. It is important for me to live according to my own internal vision, and not necessarily what I see or experience in reality. This is the way to make aspirations real.
So, in my vision, I see a commitment to Masonic philosophy. To learning it and practicing it. In practice this means I am a student of all philosophy and all religion. Because I see myself as a kind of layman philosopher, I am emboldened to practice as a student of philosophy. Because you see, this is what I believe a Mason is. In my vision, a Mason is a kind of para-professional. A historian without being a true, trained historian. A theologian, a guru, an academician without an Academy. But not only these things.
A Mason, in my vision, is a leader without a government, a soldier without an army, a Monk without a monastery.
None of these things are true of course. A Mason is a guy with a wife or girlfriend, a job, bills, and maybe some interesting books. But if I saw myself that way, I could no longer stand to be a Mason. It's just too boring, too tedious, too petty, and without reward. It is expensive and time consuming and very unfulfilling. More men choose to stop participating than choose to start. I would likely have made that choice too.
I am, however, fortunate to have made a leap of understanding many Masons never do. I understand (or have deluded myself to believe) that what I see with my earthly eyes is not actually reality. It is only what my human senses can show me. Reality must also include the existence of the potential; the possible.
And so, I choose not to "see" the shambles of an organization; the pitifulness of a group of guys with girlfriends, wives, jobs, and bills, shuffling and scrambling to try to put a chicken dinner together as if it is the most important thing they will do all year. In place of my earthly vision, I choose to "see" pathways through moral conundrums to be explored. I see ancient philosophies, carried forward by dedicated men passing deep knowledge man to man, mouth to ear. I see symbolic language acted out in speech and action and clothing and colors and words and symbols, echoing the teachings of the world's great religions.
Unfortunately, this vision has to fit in between lodge meetings.