What’s something you use that is so well-disguised in it’s indispensability that the second you perceive it, becomes impossible to ignore?
Something like, say, breathing.
Pumping columns of air into diaphragm and out through nostrils in tiny flares.
into, out though . . . into, out though . . . into, out though.
If I’ve made you aware of your own breathing, I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. But since you’re attention is already on it, go ahead and just take a deep breath. Pull a mighty draft in. Let your chest bellow with volume. Make it audible. Make it count. To five.
It’s rich, isn’t it? We cycle a whole day in reflexive, measured respiration. But oh, what a feeling to take a deep breath. It’s different. It’s more. It makes you notice how valuable this habit really is.
Everyone’s wheelhouse of routine contains something akin to a deep breath. The hefty sheet of parchment for the rare handwritten letter. The good china for your parents’ dinner visit. The Swingline from your paralegal days whenever the office stapler is being extra useless.
In my case, a fine necktie.
Once a day I turn my head to the most colorful and disheveled quarantine of the closet. On a two-by-three foot tie rack hangs, dangles, and twists about forty ties. There had been an order to the mess, now long abandoned. All I can tell is that of the lenten supply, a column of ten are actually used. The rest lay in wait “just in case.”
Some are forgotten two-for-one deals. Some are gifts from loved ones. Some are from online, always with varying degrees of success. Most leave me to guess what the hell I was thinking.
And one’s a gallon of air.
I picked up this tie at Landmark, Central Hong Kong in December. The gentlemen of The Armoury, always purveyors of fine taste, carry their own line of neck wear in partnership with Drake’s London, whom I’ve always admired but couldn’t justify purchasing. Up until that point. It was my birthday and I thought I could gift myself.
The pattern of brown under blue florid squares was enough for this piece to catch my eye, but what stood out was patched inside.
Handmade in London.
I’ve never owned a handmade tie. Could it really be that different?
The finishing slip stitch was soft and a hair loose. The folds rather rolled at the edges. The width and proportion just right. And the wool. The wool felt alive, full of room, full of air. With a quick four-in-hand and an effortless dimple under the knot, I went out the door with quite a tie. I make a point to wear it once a week.
This isn’t clearance aisle. This isn’t mechanized mass production. This is deliberate creation . This is a few generous puffs into the chest, finishing a stitch that someone will value, far away from London.
Among the festoon of lightly and less-than-lightly worn ties on my tie rack, this new one stands at the upper echelon. I don’t mean that a pile of ties now sit in a trash bin in Shekou. I’ll wear my $10 MUJI repp as much as ever, because it was a steal and a damn fine tie in ways the others aren’t.
But I have changed the perception of an essential fabric of clothing. This new tie is a benchmark for quality, and now I have a better eye for what’s good. What a tie could be. Since three in four I don’t wear anyway, it could pay to be more discerning. I wear them most of the week, and it feels nice to appreciate a little gift for yourself once in a while.
The scenic route. An honest “Thank you.” A good cup of coffee. A really good pint of beer.
What’s that something you put to use every day? If you haven’t already, enjoy a really good one of it. Mine was a tie. Yours is out there.
Go find your deep breath and take it.
You can purchase all Drake’s for the Armoury ties on The Armoury store online.