Wednesday, February 13, 2013


"Gentleman's Desk", oil, by Jeanne Illenye
I sometimes speak to the boys in my classes about the importance of being a gentleman, and this morning, for one of the few times, I’m giving some thought to what that might actually mean, especially the “gentle” part. Perhaps it has something to do with taking a merciful approach to my days, seeing them as gifts to be cherished rather than races to be run. Being a “gentle” man might make my days more like suave dancing partners than dangerous adversaries. I could trust the fascinating days to do their best for me rather than always trying to challenge and change them.  Being a gentleman, too, might mean living a mild sort of life, being a soft breeze rather than a roaring, self-absorbed wind. It might be a life of letting go rather than grabbing and getting. A lot of life can be lived well only with a sweet temper and a soft touch, the way a light wind lets itself into a neighborhood with no noise and no stiffness, just the mildest of brushes and strokes. It’s a gentleman wind, we might say, like my gentlemanly students and their serene, softhearted, senior-citizen teacher.

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