When I was in high school, I was clearly not in the cool group. The first pair of bell bottoms? Lavender denim. When my first car, a 1970 Ford Custom, needed a paint job? Bright lime.

So when I was told today, “He figured that was your video on Sunday. He recognized your style,” I just laughed. After less than a month at the new place and I have a style already.

For me, and for most of you, a style isn’t something we have. We just are. Style is something that famous people have, something that marks celebrities or notables or the notorious. We just have how we live.

However, as I think about it, I do tend to make choices in particular ways. For example, if the title font is up to me, I’ll go for TW CEN MT or, if I’m feeling wild, I’ll go for TW CEN MT condensed. If there is a picture to take, I’ll be on the floor, or up high, or in the corner. If there is a ‘normal’ way to say something, I’ll choose the other way.

One way to describe such behavior is with the word ‘rebellious.’ However, since I am still waiting for my teenage rebellion, I’d like to suggest that my style, if I have one, is “look differently at what you see.”

But here’s my question for you: are you willing to acknowledge that you have style? Think about what you do when you choose to talk…or not. Think about what you do when you choose to read…or not. Think about who you choose to talk with…or not. Think about what you choose to do when you don’t have anything to do…or whether you acknowledge that you don’t have anything to do.

We each have a style, a pattern of choices, a ‘thing’ that other people can identify as us. We don’t see it, or we apologize for it. I, for example, frequently tell people that I’m glad that I don’t have to talk with me. I find it hard to finish a sentence before I interrupt myself with another incomplete sentence which is followed by an non sequitor  and then a deep breath. However, other people just attribute it to my style (not some character flaw (or if it is they forgive me)) and move on.

And that’s what we do with you. The thing you think you are awful at? We don’t notice. The thing that you think you can’t do well? We love you for it. Your peculiar way of looking at the world that you think doesn’t matter to anyone? It matters to us.

Today I sent an email to a friend which said something like, “If I could reach through this screen I would whup you upside the head.” Last week she said that she didn’t belong with the group of people who will be writing for lent over at  Today she sent me a draft which absolutely stunned me with its imagery and clarity and simple, pure delicacy. I won’t tell you which writer it is, but it sets a standard of authenticity for the rest of us which I will struggle to live up to.

But you see, I know her style. She just lives.

What I think is that style isn’t something we should shape. We should just work hard, and carefully, and prayerfully, to make wise and honest choices that acknowledge absolutes and hold loosely negotiables.

Or maybe, we should just look differently at what we see.


8 responses to “style

  1. Jon, rebellious?, Not! Unique?, For Sure! As always, thanks for another serving of good food for thought. I believe we could all use another view of what we “think” we see. Finally, what a nice couple of guys in that picture! Lowell

  2. Jon, this is lovely. I am so looking forward to meeting you in person (some day) and smiling when I notice you interupting your own sentences or getting down on the floor to take a photo 🙂

    You’ve captured style and authenticity here – but also what it is to feel friendship, kinship, affection, familiarity, love. It’s just this:

    “Your peculiar way of looking at the world that you think doesn’t matter to anyone? It matters to us.”



  3. It sounds like a vision to behold- lavender bell bottoms in a lime green Ford.

    I think style is how you live. I have been thinking a lot about how that changes over time and how your relationships change with it- about how those choices and what’s true evolves and what it takes to sustain a long relationship.

    I wrote a post today that connects a bit to what I am bringing away from your post (GNMParents
    You wrote “We each have a style, a pattern of choices, a ‘thing’ that other people can identify as us.” I think there is a base of us-ness, and that as we catch what’s tossed at us in life our style morphs and hopefully grows to sustain that which is most important to us. But then I think it must also be the base that changes- or at the very least grows.

    I wish I drank coffee. I could use some

    Thanks for getting me thinking.


  4. Lowell – thanks for the affirmation from someone who knew me then.

    Joanna – whenever you speak about writing and authenticity, I listen.

    Meg – your post today is spine-tingling, there is no other word. Anyone reading this comment, follow the link in her comment. Whatever i may hint at here, she breathes out in a way that makes you want to sit quietly in awe and then tiptoe quietly away.

  5. Wow. Thank you.

  6. Lavender? Seriously??!! It’s going to be a long time before I can shake that image.

  7. love this – you described it so perfectly and i think it’s a great thing to know about ones self

    I apparently covet people I meet and then describe them as mine – example: my liz strauss or our liz strauss

    (which is how I met you)

    i didn’t know I did that until someone told me

    the lime car speaks volumes

    Mother Earth aka Karen Hanrahan

  8. Thanks, Karen, for stopping by and for sending Reg. I like the “our” idea. It’s a way of identifying community and relationship.