So said Angelique Arnauld. There are many things a gentleman should know, and many ordinary, everyday things he should know how to do it very well.
To know how to cook the perfect roast potato, to know where to buy the best wine and cheese in the city, to know why Rembrandt is called a master and to know the feeling of pushing yourself beyond your endurance on a Saturday morning cycling ride. Knowledge and the pursuit of it should be the passion of the modern aspiring gentleman.
Knowledge is necessary for good conversation. You need to know about interesting (and learned) things to share informed thoughts about them. Knowledge helps you grow too. It’s not just about being a bookworm and reciting facts. Reading opens your mind and helps you think and form better ideas about life and the world around you. Read widely and follow trending topics online. In this day and age, it’s never been easier to expand your knowledge on virtually any subject you may come across. Google is always just a couple taps away on your phone when there’s a word you’ve heard for the first time or a subject you’d like to know more about. Technology is there for everyone, so why not take advantage of it?
Fashion. Art. How to change the oil in a car. Every conceivable topic is there for the taking. Study. Get yourself an education if you haven’t already. A teacher was once asked by his student: “Why are we learning about this topic when it has little application in the real world?” The teacher thought for a moment. When he had asked the same at school he was told: “You are learning it because it is in the curriculum.” This time he turned to his student and said: “Because it will make you think, and learn skills that you can apply in the real world.” Life is all about problem-solving. Learning gives us more and more tools at our disposal to solve problems we will encounter in life. A gentleman is above all — a problem solver. What knowledge imparts is the ability to build upon our basic foundation of understanding until we have a solid and reliable structure, around which to put greater reality and conviction to our beliefs..
Never stop learning. That doesn’t just mean academia. You can always learn new and useful tricks to impress your friends. Take a cooking course in an exotic cuisine like Thai or Tibetan. A gentleman is multi-talented. Surprise people. Act nonchalant when they say: “I didn’t realize you knew how to do that...” You want people to come to you and respect you for your knowledge of many things — what you don’t want to be is a know-it-all. Sometimes when you listen, you will learn new things too. Meet new people and share knowledge and ideas with them. Be surprised by others when you yourself learn something new. Being a gentleman means knowing when to say: “I didn’t know that.”
Find your own heroes. Look up to others who are worthy of being looked up to. Admire intelligence wherever you may find it.