I’ve had facial hair off and on for the past few years, but around the middle of last year I began growing what was to become my most epic and first ever “serious beard”. I grew it for several reasons; one of the simplest being “because I can”, and some of the more complex reasons coming from a sort of strange need in the deepest, darkest part of my soul. Yep, that’s pretty melodramatic. But so is life sometimes, I guess. So I just grew that old sucker right out! And people had all sorts of responses.
Some people’s positive reactions ranged from like to love. Some were indifferent about it. And most straight up hated on it, some more venomously than others, without naming names, you know who you are. But seriously, this “beard phase” I found myself in was real, and, as I said before, it was needed. It’s hard to put into words what it stood for, and what it meant to me. In some ways I was mourning a season of the past, in other ways it’s like I was in some sort of hibernation period, and in other ways it was just an outward “stay away” sign for a period of time. Yeah, the past few years have been a bit rough, and I guess it all needed to work its way out in one way or another; my beard was just one of the many ways I have been “working it all out”.
And I am still working it out. But I recently I have felt a tangible shift in the atmosphere. It’s like things are changing, certain things are lining up in amazing ways, and I am coming into a new, fresh, wonderful season. This is truly incredible seeing that I just lived through my first full American (literal) winter in eleven years, right after living through four years of the coldest, darkest (metaphorical) winter of my life. And now it’s Spring, and the birds are chirping, the weather’s changing, the ground’s thawing out, the flowers and trees are blooming, everything seems bright, and life seems to be filled with the promise of hope and newness. I like that. And I feel it too…deep, deep down.
This morning, with all of that in mind, I shaved my beard off. I shaved it off because I feel I am coming into a new season, and the beard phase is officially over. The thing is, I had really grown to like the beard. I’d actually even grown to love it. I hadn’t even realized just how much of my current identity (at least in my mind) revolved around the beard. So, today, instead of being filled with joy of going into this new season I find myself moving into, I rather found myself mourning the loss of my beard. That is so, so weird. And then I realized…that’s exactly what we do.
We get so used to pain, and hurt, and crap that we’ve lived through, we become comfortable in it, and we wear it, and if we allow it to, it becomes a part of us. Sure, sometimes it is important to go through phases of allowing ourselves to feel certain negative feelings, and mourn certain things we’ve lost, and acknowledge the pain that is there. But the most important thing is movement, and not to stop and allow a phase to become a destination. Sometimes sitting is easier than standing, wallowing is easier than walking, and dwelling is easier than moving on.
I don’t want to sit, wallow, or dwell. It’s just not me. I’m ready to move on to bigger and better, greater and more wonderful things. And I know that if I try to hold on to the “beard phase”, I will not be moving into this new season of life in the fullness of what I am supposed to be, or rather who I am supposed to be. I needed a fresh start, a clean slate. As much as I miss the beard, I am aware of the symbol that it represented for me and I am happy to shed it, and move on. I shared this because I know I’m not the only one with a beard that needed to be shaved, whether literal or metaphorical, and if you are a “bearded” woman or man, wearing that “beard” for longer than you should, making the “beard phase” a “beard stop”, I want to challenge you to consult your nearest “clippers”, whatever that may be to you.