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"Some days, it seems to be the only thing that really matters."

The days where I've shaved before heading out the door seem to unfold differently than those days when I do not. For me, Shaving's like suiting up before entering the game. The uniform should properly not in any way affect the quality of my play, but it sure seems to. Shaved, I feel as though I'm putting forward my best face. Grisly, I know that I'm most certainly not looking my best. However mediocre my best might seem to anyone else, my less than best can't hope to compete. I feel complete after shaving, though I know I've just scraped off a fine skin layer and might reasonably feel a little less for the exercise.

I think the ritual, small though it might seem, makes the real difference.
Whether or not I care how I appear in public, having performed the ritual leaves me feeling better prepared for anything I might encounter. Like the kid who observed his mom's advice to wear clean underwear whenever going out, after Shaving, I can feel confident even should I get run over by a bus I won't embarrass myself or the family name when First Responders find me wearing yesterday's drawers. When I'm shaved, I'm golden.

I never much cared for shaving. I found it immediately tedious and dangerous for a person possessing my level of dexterity. I'd prefer to live a mobster's life where a barber comes in to shave me rather than me having to shave myself. I nick and scratch no matter how sharp the blade, but I've survived so far, though I early on gave myself a pass on the mustache space. I immediately discovered that the area beneath my nose should be consider space where no razor ever goes. I become uncharacteristically meticulous when I shave, careful perhaps to a fault. I must above all remain mindful, focused upon the present here and now, never letting my mind wander as it quite naturally tends to under most circumstances. Shaving might serve as my sole focusing ritual, surpassing even meditation as a time when I can count myself present and actually accounted for.

Because I view it as a picky process, I seem to need to deliberately choose to shave. It's never become a part of my otherwise mindless morning routine. I catch myself each morning deciding to shave, never waking up in the middle of wielding the blade. Because I parse Shaving as a choice, I can always decide not to shave. I don't attend many formal gatherings these days, and even there about half of even the more senior people present will be sporting some form of the tightly groomed informal Not Shaving look. Some won't wear socks, either. I am my father's son in the respect, for my dad treated shaving as an imperative. He'd spend much of his morning ablution shaving, a practice that I later learned might have been an inherited cultural behavior. Germans from Russia, which his grandfather who partly raised him most certainly was, were always clean shaven. They considered stubble an outward sign of an inward slovenliness, and I sense their distain for it in my own world view. I remember thinking that the Miami Vice cops looked like lazy slobs.

I seize my day by Shaving. I watch my day slip inexorably through my hands when I do not. Though my present culture seems to warmly welcome those who go out in public looking like they've just survived a week in solitary confinement, I do not. I rather pity them, not to necessarily put myself in a privileged position above them, though some of that judgement might be working within me. I pity them because they appear to have missed an opportunity to take charge of a day which will never lose its vigilance when trying to dominate their doings. I wonder how they expect to thrive without a ritual, however obsessive or compulsive or entirely optional it might actually be. I find the expectation freeing, though certainly not in practice, just afterward. Shaving might seem like a terribly SmallThing, but some days, it seems if it's the only thing that really matters.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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