Skip to main content

What's Your Approach to Life?

Another Leslie Saalburg illustration from decades ago.  An idealized image, yes, but the house depicted is kind of nice.  The car ain't too bad either.  A 1933 Packard I believe.

Calm -- Quiet -- Understatement -- Moderation -- Sophistication -- Elegance -- Refinement -- Discernment -- Polish -- Grooming -- Restraint -- Kindness -- Gentility -- Care -- Planning.  Concepts to be aware of.  Ideals to strive for.  Rules to live by.  

Naysayers might counter that most of  the qualities listed above, much like the illustrations accompanying this post, are themselves impossible ideals.  I would argue that it is entirely possible not only to aspire to such concepts, but to come pretty darn close to living them provided a person exercises careful forethought.  

I suppose, however, that it depends on one's frame of reference and related vision of how life can be.  Do we really want to give up on the game before we've even tossed our hat in the ring, and continue wallowing in the metaphoric primeval green miasma and sludge that engulfs so many in the 21st century?  Or would we prefer to pull ourselves out of that very same ooze and cultivate a more pleasant life? And no, we're not talking about having piles of the filthy lucre here, but rather principles.  The bedrock, perhaps, of classic style.

As The Grand Duchess and I point out so often to The Young Master, during those more difficult episodes that parents out there will be familiar with, you have a choice.  Either X or Y.  It's up to you.  But be aware that your choices have (sometimes unintended) consequences, which might influence other areas of your life.  Choose wisely, in other words, to avoid complications, disappointment , or just plain trouble down the road.  So much in life is tied to that notion of forethought.  Or lack thereof.

As for wallowing in the primordial ooze versus a more pleasant existence, I know which of the two I'll opt for.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

A Post Father's Day Monday P.S.

We can also add other qualities to the above list.  Concepts that aren't much talked about anymore, for example patience, curiosity, integrity, compassion, empathy, loyalty, conscience, character, courage, honor, and respect [Thanks to Mature Style for the inspiration].  Let's also add critical thought (for ourselves) to the mix.  

If we take pains to cultivate these qualities in ourselves, and in our children, along with the aforementioned traits of calm, quiet, understatement, moderation, sophistication, elegance, refinement, discernment, polish, grooming, restraint, kindness, gentility, and care, then it strikes me that a person will be well on the way to living stylishly as well as fostering that same approach to life in the next generation while at the same time avoiding the overt and tacky garishness that characterizes so much of what passes for societal discourse in 2019.  

You'll notice too that the almighty $$$ has very little to do with the points I highlight, so the oft heard protest that an elegant life requires scads of money is a moot point.  People who make that tired argument are looking at the issue in the most superficial way.  In the broadest sense, style and sophistication are more about what's on the inside, and how we channel those various attributes in our approach to life, than they are about trappings like navy blazers, leather dress shoes, stately houses, and vintage luxury automobiles.  Those kinds of items are nice, but they are just things after all.  

This is not to suggest, in anyway, that we shouldn't bother improving our external presentation.  But in the ongoing collective effort to look and behave like we have more than an ounce of sophistication, we need to be aware that we must also strive to be (-come) well-rounded individuals.  In other words, we cannot ignore the internal at the expense of the external.  

To do so risks gross oversimplification of the broad concept of 'Style' and achieves very little.  We might all look a whole lot better than society does at present (maybe), but like Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt (1867), there won't be much more to us than that.  Like an onion, once the shiny skin has been stripped away, all we are left with is a pungent and rather unpleasant inside that leaves a bad taste in its wake.  Not much more than that.  Male versions of the externally attractive, but totally vapid and complacent Stepford Wives (1975) to put it another way.  Surely, that is not how we want to come across to others.  Or is it?

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Another idealized image this gray, cool Saturday afternoon, but it conveys the right idea.


Post a Comment

All opinions are welcome here. Even those that differ from mine. But let's keep it clean and civil, please.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Popular Posts

Flannel and Suede Tuesday. . .

W hew!  Almost three hours spent reading and providing feedback for 41 self-evaluative reflections submitted by students at the end of last week for one of my two courses this semester/term.  A largely thankless task since most will pay no attention to the probing questions asked  and suggestions made. There are ten such low risk (two points each) formative assignments between Week Two and Week 13 besides three collaborative projects (due at the end of Week Five, Week 10, and Week 14) and a semester capstone that students complete individually (due at the end of Week 15).  The format is similar for all of the courses I teach whether face-to-face, hybrid, or asynchronous online.  So, why spend the time providing feedback for the ether?  To create a paper trail of sorts.  That way, when students come to me with either belligerence or crocodile tears (it rarely varies) and complaints that they won't be able to earn their A+ -- a foregone conclusion out ahead of the invariable medical

Halloween Monday Style. . .

    A dark, wet Halloween today, so time to break out the flannel three-piece, which is one of my favorites during the cooler/colder months.  My sole concession to the day is the orange necktie which is a Brooks Brothers 'Makers' and, in my view, perfect for the fall season given its colors.   The fedora, worn without irony, is a Borsalino 'Noir' model, which works wonderfully well with a trench coat.  Hey, everyday is dress-up day in my little corner of the world.  Here's a tip.  When you dress everyday, and become used to doing so, it ceases to feel like a costume, and you become less self-conscious, eventually forgetting about your clothes all together once they are on your body.  Which is what you want.  Of course, it helps if you observe older male family members doing so routinely during your formative years, but that's not entirely necessary when you have the right approach.  Take a page from Carol Dweck's book and adopt what she has termed a 'g

Fall Break Monday Style. . .

    T he Young Master and I had some fun yesterday (Sunday) afternoon while digging out a few exterior  seasonal decorations from the furnace room.  Enlarge the top photograph to see what Mr. Bones is reading about at my son's suggestion. Personally, I would be happy to skip the Halloween decorations outside beyond a couple of jack-o-lanterns glowing on the front porch for trick-or-treat evening, but The Young Master, who turns 13 this week, still enjoys it, so what are you gonna do?  He will be answering the door this year, however, rather than heading out himself.   But fear not all you advocates of kids hopped up on sugary treats!  His Tae Kwon Do studio has organized a trunk-or-treat for Saturday afternoon, in which our son will indulge following his morning classes toward Black Belt Recommended status (testing in December). Fall Break the first two days of this week, so a bit more work from home since, officially at least, the university is not closed for faculty and staff.  J