It was another rainy day in Vancouver and my thoughts seemed to be as grey as the clouds above me. As the wipers of my old truck flapped back and forth, I let my brackish thoughts and stormy emotions of the day slowly slide away. One of the advantages of having a few trips around the sun is that you realize that the spotlight really is not on you. You can indulge in talking to strangers without fear. You give up caring about what mischief the ego is up to. Instead, you let the water flow off your back like a calm duck in the middle of an ugly squall drenched pond. You can say “thank you” and not worry whether or not that statement is understood as genuine or not. So when I approached the door to Safeway, I paused and let another worldly-wise matron enter. She seemed shocked. I smiled and said, “Contrary to rumor, there are still a few gentlemen on this planet”. Her laughter was my special gift for the day.
In the middle of a muddle, my sis had advised me to look for one special thing each day and today’s special thing was acting as a gentleman. You see, while virtues may not make it onto Yahoo and CNN, there are men on this planet who are gentle men. They have survived personal lose, perhaps a war or they have had enough trials and turmoil to compose at least one or two decent country western songs. You will meet them at the most of places. They will be prone to do odd things, like opening doors or helping a stranger carry a heavy load. They will point out that your tire is low, while their wives will tug their arms and say “ oh hun, don’t bother the young man”. They are less prone to wish ill of others. When a fired up buddy mutters a cuss like (and I do pardon my language) “what is the difference between an anal sphincter and a person fond of sucking male genitalia”, they will probably reply “Oh I guess 10 to 14 inches”. They get the message and they can empathize with the anger. Even if they fought and cussed their way through the South Pacific, they were wise enough to clean up their act when they got home.
It seems, that some things get lost between the generations. The utterances born during times less affluent seem to lack the luster. Snippets like “ remember to engage your brain before you work your tongue” or “if you do not have anything good to say, do not say it at all” have been replaced with “Just do it” and mindless tweets and cowardly virtual toxic back stabbing. Sure we get to toss around terms like “mindfulness” and stomach marinade tofu, yet the linguist panache of true gentleman is lost against the digital noise. Through my own day, I had attempted to share wisdom about the neuron synapse. To get attention in class, I mimicked calling God on my cell phone. I was in awe as I read about two lions that were rescued from a circus and a store display in Egypt. I lamented that rhinos do not have the star attraction of lions. I was blessed to have my daily chat with a youth whose courage steered her away from an empty jar of pills.
I am not sure if moving up the food chain has all the benefits that we profess. I do know that there is a fine line between those who give a shit and those who prefer to stir it up. I do know that the price of bovine feces is always dropping. On this humble planet there are those citizens on that have put another’s life ahead of their own. They may gravitate to professions that instantaneously put a bull’s eye on their backs. When you shake their hands and look into their eyes, you know that their lives have been molded by practical wisdom. Their actions are not media memes nor are their actions pungent with fecund odors of fermenting bacteria. You see, moving up any level of leadership or species populations doesn’t imply that character and virtues will rise. As an ol cowpoke once told me “ just because you make it to the top aint always a good thing, hell kid…shit floats”.
Well I have yarned on enough and there is a dinner to take care of. If you are having a crappy day, open a door for some one and smile. Let that car cut you off and nod with sage like acknowledgment. You may not have to the powers to control all that crosses your path yet you do have a choice to be an anal sphincter or a gentle man. Sadly, I can only voice my thoughts as a male. Sure, I would really appreciate the feminine gender to get on board. Perhaps they could share their own wisdom and let the young pups know that a gentle man is a rare bird worth saving. To be a man, a gentle man, doesn’t imply that you have to be loud and brash. Instead, you may be inspired to roar a little less. A gentle man is more prone to act upon honourable impulses instead of making a tweet. A gentle man is secure and not worried about being sexy nor do they seek the spotlight. Perhaps like the rhino instead of a lion, a gentle man is content to be a hard charging herbivores that likes to roam the wild savannah. While some folks still believe that their horns have potent powers, I beg to differ. Being humble, gentle and noble beast takes thick skin and a myopic vision that seeks out the simple things in life.