Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hard Days Work

"These hands ain't never seen a hard day's work" my grandmother so eloquently remarked while examining my hands. As she studied the lines of my palm and fingers I wondered what exactly was she looking for. She's not a superstitiious woman by any means so I immediately dismissed the notion of her attempting to "read my palm''. The comment however did stick with me. I was only 12 at the time, and had climbed my fair share of trees, played quarters with my cousins until our knuckles bled and had fielded pop fly's bare handed. Sure, I had never actually worked with these hands but they were anything but soft.

Looking back, I now know what my grandmother had meant by saying hard days work. At that tender age of 12, I hadn't yet gripped the handle of a hammer and created something uniquely my own. Nor had I lifted a dumbell and completed countless reps until my arms and fingers ached with pain. My hands see, could tell my grandmother things that I couldn't. She could tell if I was as crafty as my father and grandfather from the nicks and scrapes on my fingers. Badges, if you will, earned through trial and error, time and patience, hardwork and dedication.

The callouses that have hardened where my fingers met my palm are evidence of me having toiled with an instrument of some kind. It may have been a bat.Gripped, choked up on and gripped even tighter in anticapation of a homerun. Or maybe it was the aformentioned barbell, whose textured iron rips away flesh from the hand with every unrelenting set. Whatever the method may be, my hands told a story that only those whose hands had experienced similar could appreciate.

The conversation between man and hand takes place in a matter of seconds during the initial handshake. That handshake, when exectuted properly (or poorly), lets others know what lies beneath your dapper appearance and immaculate grooming. You see, more than just a friendly gesture between strangers, the handshake is a power move. And aside from getting a firm grip, 2 second squeeze, while maintaing eye contact, the handshake from a gentleman's hands that can tell a story goes further than what any superficial conversation can hope to.

The hands are one of the only body parts that can communicate all on their own. A weak, soft, daintly hands suggests an individual shys at rolling their sleeves up and getting down and dirty. Such a person rather delegate the work to others. Contrast that with the strong, meaty yet limber fingers of my grandfather. A man who wouldn't hesitate to lend a helping hand, forearm or elbow. His hands told stories, of days long gone by, things built years ago and of work whose only reward was the satisfaction of completion.

So go outside and pick up something. Build something with your hands. Destroy something with your hands. Greet a hard days work as an oppurtunity to earn your mits their stripes. So that one day your hands too, can tell a story.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

How to Live Forever: Lessons from a Centenarian

Having recently laid to rest my great grandmother, I was pleased to see the impact she had made on so many people's lives. There was the personal impact she had on my own, teaching my cousins and I the virtue in being selfless, but as I looked around the pews of the church that seated my relatives I was able to see the genius that was my great grandmother's wisdom and charm.

She lived a life far longer than most, passing the century mark just this March, and while her time here on Earth was far and beyond what any of us expected, even more inspiring is what she did with it. Present were 5 generations of people she had helped nurture, mentor and develop into men & women. A living legacy that would carry on her life's work.

I share all this to make my main point. Creating a lasting legacy will be one of the most enduring and fulfilling accomplishment's of any gentleman's life. These legacies will far outlive our mortal lives, being passed on for generations.True, many of us think we will live forever and take little thought on how things will play out once we seize to exist. Such naivety breeds procrastination. A true gent seizes the day, living in the now, all the aware of the future.

A man's legacy should speak to something greater than he. Maybe it's a breakthrough on a grand scale such as Martin Luther King Jr., did with the Civil Rights Movement. Or maybe its a blog, chronicling timeless advice on the philosophy of a gentleman. Whatever it may be, it should be a withstanding testimony to its creator. An idea, moment, or event that defines him, providing gudiance for his descendants and others far after his life has run its course. What will your legacy be?