The $300 Belt

“No Excuses!”

Well, that is what I hear as I try to convince myself of a worthy reason as to why I haven’t written in almost three weeks. Honestly, I have no excuse. However, during my stint of laziness, I’ve been meditating on an article which I read a while ago.

The article titled, “Who Are You?” (by Roy S. Johnson, Editor in Chief, Men’s Fitness/March 2011), presses the reader to take a look at ourselves completely stripped of the stuff and things that control our identity; such as what we wear, drive, eat, etc.. Then, when all else is gone, who and what is left?

      Ultimately, who we are is what we leave behind. Sure, you might have a will crammed with all kinds of stuff to leave your family and loved ones. But even if your estate is worth millions, it won’t be as valuable as you and how you touched those around you, how you taught those around you – by your actions and words
      Make sure you like you when there’s nothing else around.

Well put! But why bring it up? Because, in essences, this is the heart of the Modern Gentleman. Too many times am I needing constant reminders of what it means to take pride in “me.” Everyday, I have to ask myself, “What am I doing to invest in me?” And this question is the foundation of The Modern Gentleman.

The Modern Gentleman was created on the basis that as men, we would enjoy doing things and being apart of things that were out of the ordinary for what society deems as correct for our “kind.” One example, all men are responsible for shaving and grooming their facial hair. However, society might imply that only more wealthy, more advantaged, or elite, men have the capability to shave properly and with better technique and equipment. False.


The Belt for Heroes

In January, I had to take a business trip to El Paso, TX. It was going to be a long flight with long layovers so I decided to expand my horizons, venturing out in the magazine world. I bought an issue of GQ and read it on the plane. After finding myself captivated by the fantastical articles and profiles of celebrities pushing the boundaries of manliness, it took a while to snap myself back to reality.

I found myself completely engrossed in the world of “manliness,” being well-groomed and well-dressed. I wanted that. I wanted all that GQ had to offer. But, then something caught my attention. In the article for “affordable” fashion-savy apparel for Spring 2011, a threaded, brown belt which is to be paired with a blue suit was priced at a low $300. Quickly, I fell from “being a man” to “not able to afford to be a man.”

Heck, I probably can’t even afford to be a boy at this rate. And honestly, it’s not about a belt at all. It’s about the idea that to be a man, you must have clothing, or accessories, or a hairstyle, or a car that proves to those around you that you are a man. And the more you invest in those things, the more manly you become. If you own a $300 brown, threaded belt, that is great! You might be considered a man by societies standards. However, I would argue that if your brown, threaded belt defines who you are because of what it is and how much it cost, then you just became a poster child for modern materialistic juncture where manliness and false confidence collide with a catastrophic after shock.


The Investment

Man’s integrity is not fueled by money or popularity, by stuff or materials. Man’s integrity, and what defines him, is on a level with deeper and more important attributes. Attributes such as righteousness, greatness, and hero. A man’s integrity is about someone’s elses “good,” and not their own.

So, why the talk of shaving, products, cigars, etc.? Good question. The Modern Gentleman is not about what products you use, or what techniques you incorporate. It’s all relative. Moreso, it’s about what they do to touch the soul of men.

If I could ask one question to each man in the world it would be this, “What are you doing to invest in you?” Some may talk about steps towards the advancements in their career. Others may talk about the goals they have set for themselves in the coming years. However, I don’t want to ask that question to hear about what you’re “doing for yourself.” Rather, I would ask that question to change the tone of our conversation.

Let’s change the definition of “investing in you.” Even in this context, we may immediately be drawn to selfish conversation about making ourselves better. But, why do we make ourselves better? What’s the point? Our society is filled with, “If only I was happier…” and “If only I was making more money…” But, even if you obtain the highest paying job in the world and have the biggest smile on your face, your fulfillment runs dry quickly.

Instead, what if “investing in you” became about someone else? What if we worked only 8 hours a day, instead of 10?  What if our personal, yearly goals were to give more money to the needy, instead of making more money at work? What if we wake up an hour earlier to make breakfast for our family? What if we bought $50 worth of Dollas Value Menu hambugers and handed them out to the homeless families downtown during our lunch break? What if we got fired because we refused to miss our children’s sporting events?

All of sudden, our investment in ourselves echos through the lives of those surrounding us. Our investment in ourself invests in the people we call family and friends. That is a man’s integrity!


So Then Who?

I admit that I constantly need a reminder that investing in me is about investing in those around me. What good am I to my family if I work 60 hours a week? What good am I if I don’t take a few minutes out of the day to collect my thoughts and release some steam? My mission is to those around. I invest in myself so that I am better for those around me. I enjoy shaving because it makes me more confident. I enjoy a good cigar because of the intellectual probing it brings in conversation and the company it keeps. I enjoy being a man, because of what it does for my family, friends, career and faith.

The $300 belt is worthless if the man behind it is empty. Don’t be blinded by society’s materialistic ventures and propaganda. Instead, strip yourself of all the “stuff” and ask yourself, “What are you doing to invest in yourself.”

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