A Gentleman of Style and Substance

Some time ago I was chatting with a friend of mine.  As often happens during such chats, one subject moved to another rather fluidly and with no real design until we found ourselves talking about the apparent shallowness all around us.

That chat has stayed with me.  It has stayed with me and resurfaced on a variety of occasions; at the mall, driving to work, at the movies, while grocery shopping and even (especially?) at church.  Morning, afternoon or evening, it really didn’t matter, the context of the conversation would force itself back into my consciousness with the persistence of a three year old.  The essence of the conversation was really a question; which is more important, style or substance?

It’s easy to dismiss this question quickly by saying to ourselves that sunstanceis what truly matters, and that anyone who says differently is selling something. 

But the question wouldn’t go away. It wouldn’t go away largely because I found myself at various times making decisions that were driven by style over substance.

That bothered me.

It bothered me in part because I wanted to believe that I was above such pettiness. I wanted to believe that my decisions were driven by substance and lasting value rather than the changeable vagaries of style and fad and fashion.  But upon careful observation of myself I came to the inescapable realization that I, like everyone else, make decisions based on style at least as often as I make them based on substance.

That was the day this blog was born.

As a blogger, I am acutely aware that what I do here, in this virtual space, is both deeply personal and glaringly public at the same time.  Bloggers blog for themselves first, sometimes grappling with issues and other times ruminating on the minutia of the moment.  But with the press of a few keys, those private thoughts are made public, laid bare for the whole world, often with less concern than is given to what to serve for dinner.  Some might go so far as to say that blogging is incapable of being truly substantive.

Perhaps.  Sometimes.

But in our digital age, blogging gives us the chance to share, with lightning speed, the insights we discover during the day.  And when those insights deal with issues of substance, they become rare treasures, treasures that might otherwise be lost in the hustle and bustle of making ends meet.

I have perused a variety of magazines over the years purporting to be “for the modern man.”  ( no, not that kind)  Invariably these magazines would wind up becoming devoted to style while offering snippets of substance.   As a husband, father, professional and enthusiast of a range of pursuits, I was disappointed.  I wanted more than snippets, I wanted full discourse, and I desperately wanted to know that others were feeling the conflict as well.

Since I didn’t find it elsewhere, I will grapple with it on my own and share it here.

I hope you enjoy the journey as well.  I know I will.

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One thought on “A Gentleman of Style and Substance

  1. True, substance seems to be lacking all around us. It seems as though everybody is caught up in ‘what will it do for me’ and try to get the next fastest, shiniest, brightest, largest whatever to give it to them. I will admit, I have been, and occasionally still get, snagged by the style hook. But as I get older and have more and more history upon which to reflect, I find that substance is much more important than style and we, as a culture, are losing it. I will hold a door for anybody, anytime and be happy for a simple ‘thank-you,’ though those are becoming rare themselves. When at the market, I’ll let the ’10 items or less’ person in front of me and my week’s worth of groceries. I try to smile and nod to the folks I pass on the street even if they are too busy to look up from their latest tweet or email to notice. I’m trying to do my part to change things a little bit at a time with a smile here, a thank-you there and trying to deal honestly within all the aspects of my life. I don’t know if this ties in to your stream of thought or not but it’s what first came to mind reading your blog. My two cents. jm

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