392. Philosophical Introspection on Growing a Beard

There is an old Greek legend of a king named Sisyphus. This lawless man deceived the gods, murdered travelers, and was generally a bad egg. After his death, the gods punished Sisyphus in the afterlife by forcing him to push a huge boulder up a hill. The boulder was enchanted to roll back down the hill before he could push it all the way to the top. Sisyphus was doomed to an eternity of maddening repetition, rolling the same rock up the same hill over and over again, never reaching the top.

Poor Sisyphus. Endless futility is just how he rolls.

I am growing a beard. Like Sisyphus, I am making yet another pointless attempt to reach an impossible goal. Just as the boulder rolled away from Sisyphus before he could make it to the top of the hill, my beard will certainly end up a failure. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

As I ponder my Sisyphean situation, rubbing my stubbled jaw and thinking gloomy thoughts, I recall my last attempt to grow a beard. It was an abomination that caused desolation. What could persuade me to unleash such a loathsome thing once more upon an unsuspecting world?

Epic jaw-beardOh, that’s right. I was playing Metal Gear Solid 4, a video game whose tough-as-nails protagonist has a rugged beard. I can only call it a jaw-beard: a line of thick stubble along the jawline. Since my own beard was strongest along the jaw, I wondered whether I might not manage a respectable jaw-beard. My hope is a forlorn one, but in a moment of quixotic stupidity, I resolved to try.

Why? Why have I returned to my folly as the dog to its vomit? What insights can I draw from my Sisyphean attempt to grow a beard? This is an opportunity for philosophical introspection. What can my patchy jaw-beard teach me about myself?

Is my beard a reaction to stagnation? After months of stressful transition, I have finally reached some shaky semblance of consistency—thank God. Does some small part of me rebel against the comfortable predictability that has settled over my life? Is my latest attempt to grow a beard a subconscious effort to escape the numbing influence of familiarity? That’s one possibility.

Is my beard an attempt to feel more grown-up? For all my twenty-something years, I don’t feel particularly competent or mature. I don’t feel very grown-up. Perhaps my beard is an attempt to instill some sort of confidence in myself as an adult—a hideous emblem of putting away childish things and embracing adulthood—a preemptive preparation against whatever grown-up challenges lie ahead. That’s another possibility.

The simplest explanation, of course, is that I think jaw-beards are cool. If that’s the case, my beard is merely a childish attempt to ape the good looks of a computer-generated character in a video game. Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

A final possibility is that my beard has no sane explanation. It may be no more rational than the impulse a man feels when standing on a high place to jump to his death.

I suppose it doesn’t really matter. Like Sisyphus, here I go again.

This is probably a good time for me to mention that this blog post is fairly sarcastic, and not meant to be taken seriously.

6 thoughts on “392. Philosophical Introspection on Growing a Beard

  1. I always feel kind of bad for people that cannot grow beards easily. I’ve had facial hair since like, middle school. And there was definitely the shadow of a mustache when I was in about third grade. When I was a senior in high school, they finally changed the dress code to allow beards, so I just let mine grow out. It’s been a close friend for my face ever since.
    The reason I keep it is quite simple: I don’t want to shave every day. It’s much easier to trim a few loose hairs than it is to shave my whole face. Heck, I can even go a few days without trimming and no one notices or cares.
    Good luck growing your beard out this time. Hopefully it works out for you.

  2. I also cannot grow a proper beard, but I hate that I still have to shave daily. My wife is not a fan of any sort of facial hair, a few hours worth of stubble INCLUDED. If she had it her way I would either shave three times daily or have my face waxed.

    At this point I’m really considering the waxing.

  3. Hmm, I find this post insightful to say the least. The most obvious is being female. I never considered the average male desiring said facial hair. I do suppose, in relation to puberty, it would be the equivalent of the “rite of passage” to shave our legs; I personally still remember when I discovered such things seemed to make some girls more, or less, likely to have a status of popularity, and that I had never really noticed hair on my legs until that day. However, I do relate to the annoyance of shaving, just not my face.

    The other insight is in feeling grown up. I confess, it surprised me you don’t feel “particularly competent or mature…[don’t feel] grown up,” as you are likely one of the most competent and mature men I know. Though some time has passed since we’ve talked, you have always been a wise and caring gentleman, far beyond your years and that is to be respected. Not feeling the same way however, I can very much relate to. We our own worst critics and no matter how much truth we are aware of, learn of, or are told of, believing those truths over the lies after so many years is much like painting white over a black wall without primer. The darkness still comes through the new light, appearing dingy. It may take several layers of white to fully cover the black, which may be years to us. However, erasing the black by first surrendering the lies to a thicker primer of peace, self-forgiveness, and believing God’s grace, will then let the white shine brightly, reflecting the Light [of Christ]. Thank you for your insights. They are thought provoking and contemplative. Blessings to you and your gifted writing future.

    • Well, I’m glad I could give you a glimpse into the addled psyche of a human male. 😉

      Your estimation of my maturity is extremely generous; I’m not sure I agree with it, but I’m touched all the same. 😛 Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement!

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