I find the answer to the question, “What is a gentleman?”, cannot be told to young men striving for a life well-lived, a meaningful life. There’s no prescription. It cannot be bought. It is revealed to us in casual conversation and mundane moments, precious information that we can uncover if we keep our eyes, and our minds, open.
Last week I was making the slow, forced walk that inevitably follows a long day at work. It was cold; rain was coming down in sheets, making getting home my only thought. As I rounded onto my block I saw a man and a woman through the water. I would not have noticed them if not for the fact that neither of them had an umbrella; I regretted their sad condition but I wasn’t thinking any further than my front door.
As I drew nearer I saw that they were an elderly couple. They had the look about them that hinted that they had met when they were young and that they had been together for a very, very long time. The man had stripped his jacket, wrapped it around his shivering spouse, and held her tightly in his arms. To me this seemed futile, they were dripping and there was nothing he could do.
But as I made my way into my apartment and dropped my things, my mind relieved from it’s solitary mission of the return trip, I had a moment of clarity - his motivation was less practical and more pure of heart. He knew he couldn’t keep her dry but he did all he could, and most importantly, to let her know he was there.
This type of devotion, even when confronted with the hopelessness of your situation, is undoubtedly a mark of a gentleman. You will not achieve everything you set out to achieve, sometimes your efforts will be wasted. But if it’s in pursuit of something, or someone, that’s important to you, then it’s well-spent. Because above all, a gentleman never stops trying.
Keep your eyes open gents.