“When you look at the world, the various arts have been tailored to be items for sale. Likewise, a person thinks of himself as something to be sold and even the implements of these Ways are proffered as merchandise. This mentality divides the flower and fruit into two, and makes much less of the fruit, than the flower.”
The Book of Five Rings
The fruit and the flower. The substance and the style. Almost everyone with a brain in their head would argue that substance over style is the answer. But the most interesting part of this quote is the mention of ‘dividing the two,’ as if to be a samurai, there is a need for both.
Everyone knows the style-only guys. The guys who can talk for an hour without saying anything. The guys who try so hard to have style, that they oftentimes miss out on everything, even the style. This isn’t the answer for anyone in any walk of life.
But if people care about style…and people do…and they are going to listen better, be influenced more, be put into action quicker, all because you have great style in front of that substance, then it makes sense to try to get a bit of both.
Style isn’t just in the way you dress, but that’s part of it. I’m pretty sure that no one looks in the mirror before they go out and says, ‘OK, that outfit looks completely awful….perfect.’ Then races out the door. But a lot of us walk out the door not considering that bike shorts in someone else’s house is offensive and unflattering on any man. There are clothes that are right to wear for every body type and every physical appearance out there. And for those of us not born beautiful, we can all be thankful for that.
The samurai took pride in the way they looked. They took pride in what they wore. They took pride in good hygiene. This is all not difficult to accomplish. Everyone reading this is on the internet…a simple search would do it. I know this is crazy and may seem shallow to say, but looking great gives me a sense of pride. I don’t think I’m alone in that sentiment.
And your flower, is much more than your wardrobe. It’s the way you walk, it’s the way you talk, it’s the way your breath smells, it’s the way your shoulders slouch, the way your chin stays up, the way you look someone in the eye, the way you shake a hand.
These are things tough to be objective about. How many close talkers know they are close talking? Not many. So if you can’t identify flaws in your own style, ask someone else to do it for you. This stuff all can be fixed.
Work on your style. Make it more appealing. Make it more current. Make it your own. But as Musashi said, don’t forget the substance. Without that, you have nothing.
P.S. This is also the quote that made the decision for me to not put banner ads on the site.