I shaved my beard last night. I really liked that beard. I’ve wanted to grow a beard for some time, but always thought that my thin cheek hair and disconnected sideburns would make me look like a crusty, unkempt Chad-Kroeger-wanna-be. However, the follicle stars aligned and I wound up with desirable man-mane. I received positive comments and compliments nearly everyday, and I basically work soley in an office with Tim for a living.
Tim doesn’t care about my beard.
It took three months of not doing anything to grow that beard. Sure, I oiled it and combed it, but it would’ve been fine without any attention. The thing had a majesty that was innate; it was awesome despite me.
So why would I shave a perfectly good, arguably covetable, pheromone inducing, testosterone fueled, manhood maker?
I honestly don’t know.
I think the thing that really pushed me over the top to do it was that I started getting comfortable. I started feeling comfortable with my newly found masculine mask. Not that I felt like I was hiding, but I get these itches. Itches to get in my car and drive until the tank runs dry. Itches to pack a duffle and burn my responsibilities to the ground. Itches to climb and subsequently jump off of tall structures. You get the idea.
“I felt like putting a bullet between the eyes of every panda that wouldn’t screw to save it’s species. I wanted to open the dump valves on oil tankers and smother all the French beaches I’d never see. I wanted to breathe smoke.”
Not that I wanted to destroy something beautiful, it’s just that growing this beard started out as an itch. I went for it. Growing facial hair is pretty low bar commitment anyway; if things go south, the ejector seat is just one trimmer away. Growing the beard started out as an itch, and once I scratched it (aka achieved those luxurious face locks), I became comfortable. I know this is a thin analogy, an easy goal; but it taught me something that I value about myself.
Comfort = Death
Or as my friend Chris Oatley would say, “Stasis equals death.” It would be hypocritical for me to say that I apply this with such prejudice in the rest of my life (I still have a wife, and a bed, and friends; all of which I love), but I value progress, and comfort is the siren that lulls us into complacency.
I don’t want to be the person I was last year. I don’t want to be the person I was yesterday. I may struggle through bouts of anger and depression, but I’m concerned with the trajectory of my life over the individual decisions.
“every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature…”
Maybe I’m being overly dramatic, but I think that pursuit of change, whether it’s progress or not, will propel us towards better things. If we change for the better, we quickly find out that what we have now chosen is, in fact, a better way. If we choose something worse, we find out that our choice sucked and what we had before, or at least something like what we had before, was the better way.
In the end, whether or not I regrow my beard is a matter of preference, there is no right and wrong. But if I do not change/question/challenge my beliefs, relationships, career, goals, etc.; I will never be forced to make those choices which ultimately turn me into the person I want to be.
Change, my friends, is everything.