Tag Archives: gentleman

THE METAPHYSICS OF MANNERS

It is my position that the Life of a well-mannered gentleman is the superior Life. I find it most unfortunate that many equate kindness, consideration, patience, tolerance, courtesy, and respectful behavior with weakness.

Understand that the manners of which I speak are not merely a perfunctory etiquette, behavioral mores observed solely to facilitate routine coexistence.  As postulated here, manners go much further and speak more to a genuine and expressed dignity demonstrating a profound appreciation of and respect for Life, Self, and Others.

Metaphysics speaks to first principles.  To my way of thinking, there is nothing more fundamental to the Human Experience than the refinement demonstrated through and by the considered and genuine display of decorum in our interactions one with another.

When drilling down into those first principles at the heart of my affinity for gentlemanly conduct, it might surprise you to learn of the motivation underlying my appreciation for and expression of such propriety.  I don’t live as a well-mannered gentleman for the benefit of others.  I do it solely for mySelf.  I do it because it makes me feel good.  I do it because it engenders a feeling and experience of power unlike any I have ever known.  That others are able to profit from my unvarnished acts of Self-interest is a tangential (and delightful) bonus.

Those Times in my Life when I have comported mySelf as other than a gentleman, whether through ignorance or intentional animus, I have always and without fail been the lesser for it.  AnyTime I have acted in an unmannered way, no matter how justified or righteous such behavior might have been, I inevitably walked away from the encounter feeling somehow soiled, contaminated by an Energy that I, ultimately, found repulsive. An Energy which I created.

Manners do not mean cowardice.  Civility does not mean capitulation.  Kindness does not mean weakness.  Firmness, resolve, and determination are more than capable of sharing the same space as gentility.  Some of the most mannered gentlemen I have ever encountered are capable of expressing great violence should the situation warrant it.  And they can do so without ever losing their dignity or their gentlemanly gravitas.

How people interact with others is telling of how they interact with and think about themSelves.  I speak often and at length about the value I perceive to be found in the process of Self-refinement.  I wish for my actions and my interactions with others to speak volumes about those things which I hold dear.  The joy and satisfaction I find in a mannered Life is reason enough for me to carry on, regardless of possibly being viewed as an ambulatory relic.

Manners maketh man.

©Billy Red Horse

DINNER WITH ALEXANDER

Over and over again (at least in the limited social media circles that I frequent) there is the encouragement to take good and respectful (and properly vetted) online relationships into the real world whenever practicable. Over the past couple of years, several gentlemen (and two ladies) have gone out of their way to visit with The Gentleman Mystic, enjoy some good food and drink, and engage in what has always been stimulating and pleasurable conversation.

I had looked forward to meeting Alexander Cortes (@AJA_Cortes) almost from the first moment he and I began interacting with one another on Twitter back in early 2018.  When I learned late last Spring (2019) that Mr. Cortes would a few weeks hence be attending an event in the Atlanta area I immediately reached out to see if he would be interested in making the short trek north of the city to spend some Time together before turning his full attention to other things. To my delight, he responded immediately and in the affirmative; arrangements were quickly made to meet at my favorite steakhouse the evening after his plane touched down.

Arriving fashionably late (in all fairness it wasn’t his fault; Atlanta traffic can frustrate and delay even the most seasoned local, much less an out-of-town visitor), Alexander greeted me with a broad smile and a firm handshake. Taking a draw from the adult beverage I had waiting for him, we sat down and began to chat.

Where many would start a first Time conversation with small talk, we immediately began to expand on topics we had discussed previously via direct message channels, in effect getting “caught up” though we had never before met.  Next, our shared interest in old-school physical culture was given its due and soon our dialogue settled into a pleasant rhythm, new topics and directions commingling effortlessly, one with another.

If I feel a certain level of comfort and mutual ease with someone and if I think they are open to subjects less in the mainstream, conversations can get very heady and very arcane very fast in my world. As Alexander was putting the finishing touches on the appetizer he had ordered, I directed his attention over his shoulder and upward to the waxing Moon that hung like a golden and somewhat lopsided wheel in the sky above. Through my action I was looking for something and Alexander did not disappoint. Rather than dismissively acknowledging the “pretty” Moon and quickly returning to our conversation, his gaze lingered. He drank in the fullness of this ancient orb that so many take for granted. The Moon was beautiful and he consumed her fully before reluctantly returning his attention to me.

Magic!

What happened next gave me a profound Measure of the young man sharing my table. Our dinner arrived; Alexander had ordered himSelf a bone-in ribeye steak with a side order of corned beef potato salad. As my similarly laden plate was placed in front of me, Alexander excused himSelf and made a quick visit to the facilities. I sat fork and knife down until he returned; my wait was not to be long. Reclaiming his seat, Alexander cut into the steak and nodded approvingly at what he saw. Whatever words he may have thought to speak stopped abruptly as he put the first bite into his mouth. Chewing slowly, he looked at me and then leaned back deliberately in his chair, an expression of rapture in his eyes. After swallowing the bite of steak, he then grabbed a fork full of the potato salad. His reaction was the same. Without uttering a word, he looked at me and shook his head slightly as if to express his disbelief at the repast before him.

The entirety of our meal was consumed in silence. No words needed to be spoken; the silent joy we both shared spoke louder and clearer than any words ever could.

After we cleaned our dishes of every morsel of food and they had been taken away by the waitstaff, our conversation then resumed. We chatted at length about our shared appreciation for Beauty in all its forms, enjoyed some key lime pie and coffee (both of which were received with the same ardor as our main course) while broadcasting via Periscope to the Twitter community at large. After the ‘scope was concluded we carried on talking about Important Things for close to a half hour more before finally ending our Time together with an obligatory selfie.

Much was discussed that should not be removed from the context of the moment. It is enough to acknowledge that I have nothing but the highest regard for Alexander Juan Antonio Cortes and expect great things from this young man. He gets it. That Real Life matters. That Life is to be savored. That Beauty is the highest attainment.

It was a good meal.

©Billy Red Horse

+++++

(This LINK will take you to the Periscope we recorded over dessert.)

The Company You Keep

Be conscious of your associations.  Rightly or wrongly, people will judge you by the company you keep.

If you have worked to build in others a confidence in your integrity, your abilities, your understanding, and your kindness, be careful not to damage that confidence through the absentminded or indiscriminate interaction with or association to those that might not themselves demonstrate the same concern and diligence you have cared enough to cultivate.

Such dubious associations need not be confined to the material world to foment pernicious or even devastating repercussions.  In this age of instantaneous virtual interaction, in the eyes of many, if it’s on the Internet, it MUST be true.  We now live in a world where, to one degree or another, everyone finds themselves in a glaring spotlight.

Even the very best work you do will no doubt be questioned by some, challenged or outright discredited by others, based in no small part on the associations you have or the attendant views you advance.  Don’t give the cynics and naysayers more fuel for their spiteful fires by handing over to them the very materials which they will use to immolate you.

The most universally regarded currency we share in our relationships with others, whether they be close at hand or half-way around the world, is the reputation that precedes us.  Our credibility is both our cachet and our cash; if your credibility is important to you, you would be wise to guard it jealously.  Nothing is worth a needless and easily avoidable aspersion to one’s good name.

It is never in poor form to take the high road.  It is never questionable to demonstrate manners and decorum.  It is never suspect to repudiate distractions and focus on that which matters. It is always wise to think before acting.

Remember: the world is watching.

©Billy Red Horse

Dignity

I speak often of the importance of basics. The consistent and energetic application of Life’s fundamentals are the surest way for a person to stand out among their peers, to be an example to others of what is possible, and to set the table for the personal experience of Joy, day in and day out.

Perhaps the most basic element a gentleman should seek to cultivate is a sense of personal power. The power of which I speak is evidence of Self-awareness, of Self-confidence, and of competency. A singular trait of the legitimately powerful is an abiding and unshakeable sense of dignity.

A man possessed of a genuine dignity is able to be calm in the midst of chaos, to be unfazed by the slings and arrows of antagonists, and just by his very presence is able to serve as a guiding light in a sometimes dark world.

The dignity of which I speak is unmistakable, evident whether a man is dressed in a bespoke suit, driving a miniature circus car and wearing full clown regalia, or standing naked and exposed as the day he was born. Dignity is not beholden to circumstance or to condition. This is how you recognize it whenever it is present.

Like most things in Life, dignity can be inborn or it can be cultivated. It should be reassuring that the latter is far more common than the former. How, then, do we generate and sustain this Magical capacity?

Competency and confidence are essential. Those who would deflect their own dignity are apt to point out that they are imperfect and, perhaps, beneath a deserved dignity. Fortunately, dignity has no need of perfection. In fact, it is in the acceptance of one’s imperfection where dignity can find its most fertile soil for growth. Discarding the fruitless pursuit of perfection frees one to focus on the real and achievable work at hand. Be honest in one’s assessment of oneSelf and one’s limitations and strengths. Get better every day. This is how it’s done.

Which comes first, dignity or competency and confidence? The equation is not linear but is circular. They each build one upon the other.

I can say much more on this and, at some point, I shall. For now, this is enough to be getting on with. In the meantime, nurture your own dignity, demonstrate it in your Life for all to see. Let it be such that strangers will address you and say, “I don’t know what it is you’ve got, all I know is that I want it!”

©Billy Red Horse

The High Cost Of Living

(This article was originally published in January of 2008)

The new year bears down upon us.  It is a Time to swear penance for that extra 10 pounds we added to our already stressed frames over the holidays, a Time to review the year that has passed and to look forward to all the positive changes we intend to initiate in the coming 12 months.  Should we be brutally honest with ourselves, though (a skill so few seem to possess in this day and age), we might find that the resolutions we are now confidently pledging to discharge are not unlike those we vowed to keep at this same Time last year.  Well, I suppose there is something to be said for consistency . . .

In a few weeks we will begin to receive the W-2 forms that allow us to accurately calculate the amount of tax we owe our feudal masters and, come late January, the mailman will deliver to us the stacks of credit card bills which are evidence certain of December’s feckless orgy of conspicuous consumption.  You had promised to curtail your spending, to buy fewer things for fewer people.  You may even have succeeded in doing just that.  But them prices, they are a risin’.  Witness the automobile that not so very long ago required a mere $17 in gasoline which now demands $50 to see the little indicator needle hover near the FULL side of the gauge.  That which once was is no more.

There is one area, however, where the prices never rise and never fall, but where the cost has always been consistently the highest that can be paid.  In this province it is not possible to negotiate better terms, more favorable rates, or to in any way defer payment.

Everything you do in your Life costs you something.  Each thought, each action, each emotion, each failure or success, all of them draw from an account that is irrevocably finite and subject to sudden catastrophic ruin.  The coin of the realm of which I speak is binary in its constitution, one half being constrained at all times by a factor of 24, while the other is a bit more protean in its capacity to wax or wane.  I speak of your Time and your Life-Force Energy.

You, like every person who has ever lived, are limited to but 24 hours in a day.  In this aspect, we truly are equal, everyone.  The visionary and the vagrant, the mystic and the madman, all are bound by the same limitations of temporal fetters.  How is it that you spend your Time?  Are you aware that every second of your Life that has passed is a second you will never EVER have again?  How much of this most precious and limited asset has slipped unnoticed through your fingers as you sat idling in traffic, suffered through yet another pointless business meeting, or engaged in some meaningless activity that did absolutely nothing to feed your soul?  Time is the one resource of which you have only so much and you can never know just how much it is that you will have.  How many more days can you claim with any certainty are at your disposal?

Every activity you undertake requires of you Time; just how much is your Time worth to you?

If Time is the “when” of human existence, then Life-Force Energy is the “how.”  This antipodal face of the two-sided coin is the Energy that motivates you, that quickens you, that sustains you, that IS you.

As with Time, a portion of your Life-Force is demanded against all that you do.  Whether an intentional expression of Beauty or a thoughtless act of anger, your personal account will be debited immediately and without consideration.  Depending on the act, you may pay up front and only once, or you may find yourself making installments for years to come.

Fortunately, and quite unlike Time, your Life-Force can be replenished, not only in quantity, but in quality, as well.  You can increase the level of your “funding” by taking care to consume only healthy food and drink, avoiding ingestion of substances that can damage the body and mind, exercising, resting, meditating, praying, by divesting yourself of as much negativity as possible and by developing a mindfulness for and about the way you live your Life.  Paradoxically, the more you engage in conscious acts that bring joy to your soul, the more likely is your store of this Energy to accrue rather than diminish.

Learn how not to give away needlessly your Energy to others and do not permit people or circumstances to drain it from you.  Don’t pay more than you must and don’t squander what you have.  Use wisely your resources and learn to invest rather than spend.

It is your responsibility to determine if what you are doing at any given moment is worth the incredible cost demanded of you.  When you tally the price you must always be willing to ask yourself, “Is this really how I wish to spend my Life?”

©Billy Red Horse

Mob Or Me?

With each passing day our society becomes ever more homogeneous.  This continues to happen because of the diminishing value placed on the individual.  Those in positions of authority, the elected and the influencers, the mandarins and the mass market industrialists who masquerade as capitalists, each share the same preferences: they like predictable, measurable, and controllable.  Consequently, everyone is expected to fit in and follow, to conform and consume, to comply or suffer that greatest of indignities – the shame of being ostracized and labeled a dissenter.

The puissant take our inherent desire to be a valued member of the tribe and twist it in the extreme, turning a great strength into a corrosive weakness.  Our legitimate interconnectedness with one another and with Nature is corrupted into something most un-natural.  “We know what’s best for you,” they suggest.  And while few of these overseers are ever so bold as to express the sentiment explicitly, the undercurrent of their implication is clear: “We want you to do what WE want you to do; don’t you understand that you are too stupid to know or do any better for yourselves?”

It is a sad verity that we have long since become interchangeable and easily replaceable cogs in a soulless machine.  It should come as no surprise that the politicos and the plutocrats find this very much to their liking.  But it does not have to remain this way.

It has long been said that our greatest challenge and our greatest reward are both experienced through knowing the Self.  Self-awareness, Self-inquiry, Self-understanding, Self-acceptance, and Self-refinement, these are the marks of the courageous spirit not willing to be counted among the untold faceless.

The Self-aware seek to discover who they are and to experience the fullness of Life – the joys and the hardships and all points in between.  These individuals strive to be at ease not only within themselves but also among the collective.  Those who are confident and comfortable in their sovereignty as an individual are those who make the powerbrokers and the mob most anxious and uncomfortable.

The greatest act of rebellion is to proclaim “This is who I am!  This is me!”

Who are you?…

©Billy Red Horse