Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Art of Manliness

This is a recommendation for a website I've been following lately. It's a compendium of advice to, well, "manning up" ... topics run the gamut from "How to be a Gentleman" to "How to Tie a Tie" and everything else you can imagine. I've been really impressed with the level of research he puts into every topic. You not only learn "what" and "how" but also "why."

They have a program running that they call "30 Days to a Better Man", which will be sent to your inbox day by day if you sign up. Today was day 10, and the topic is Memorize "If", which is a poem by Rudyard Kipling. He goes on to explain that most of the world's great men had at their grasp a lot of classical knowledge that they had taken the pain to memorize. These men thus had the rhythms of great writing already embedded into their minds, thus helping them with both writing and oration.

The poem itself really goes to the core of being a "good person", certainly not limited at all to men. Today's sound-bite oriented media would milk it down to the rather trite When life hands you lemons, make lemonaid.

But that really misses the whole beauty and pain inherent in this poem. Here it is, and don't tell me that this does not tug at your mind and your heart ...

Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream–and not make dreams your master,
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

So take a look at his web site, sign up for his newsletter, and don't forget to "man up!" :-)


janice said...

I just found your blog and have been enjoying your writing.

And ranting. :-)

And pictures. (Who knew?)

I ran into this Kipling poem (aka guide for being an adult) as a kid and it's stayed with me every since.

I particularly like the lines about everyone mattering but none more than another and being an independent thinker (keeping your cool while everyone else is having trouble doing so).

Kim Letkeman said...

Well, hi Janice. Coincidentally, I blogged a reference to the cat chasing the spider video that I saw on probative the other day. I linked back to your blog of course. I stop by there now and again, but it has been less frequent than it should ...

Glad you like the ranting ... I am one frustrated Rogers customer, but I am pinned in place so long as their technology is the best ... ever the nerd.