At least, it did for me.
As I got older, and launched myself face-first into the daunting realm of adult manhood, I found that most men (including me) struggle to maintain their sense of adventure and individuality. We’re part of a generation of men stuck behind desks, waiting in traffic, and putting in a solid day’s work just to get up and repeat tomorrow’s yesterday.
I find myself often fantasizing of the times before my own, when men wielded swords and shields, and traversed the undeveloped wilderness that once stretched as far as the eye can see.
Maybe letting the hair on my face grow long, thick, and unruly, is my way of paying homage to those men before me; my ancestors, that cared not of the lines at the grocery store, because they spent their weekdays hunting game in relentless winters and the scorching summers that followed.
Romanticizing the past is fun and all, but growing a beard isn’t just for the fearless warriors of the past, and it doesn’t have to fit in line with any cultural ‘coming-of-age’ journey into manhood.
Regardless of your rhyme-or-reason, committing yourself and your time to growing a beard really does have an effect on you and how you begin to view the world and, more importantly, how you view yourself.
I’d hate to sound cliche’, but I feel like my adult life is categorized into two time-periods: before the beard, and after the beard.
We’ve all lived that similar moment of retrospection; looking back on old photographs of our own bald faces and feeling as though we were a different person altogether.
But maybe we were…
I think growing a beard has instilled in me a lesson in patience; a lesson in understanding how long it takes for a meaningful goal to be achieved. I look back on those old photos, remembering the countless times I’d shaved a month into a poor attempt at growing a beard, because I wasn’t patient enough to see it through. I was young, and I was too immature to appreciate how the most important things in life take time to materialize and evolve into what you want them to be.
It’s easy to see how this can overlap into other, far more important, aspects of life; and how patience, a virtue often forgotten by the young, can-and-will lead you to surprise yourself and eventually become the person you hoped to be at the finish line.
You might not be striking your sword into the hard iron of a blacksmith’s anvil any time soon. You may not be fighting your way to the top of a rocky mountain summit. But you’re still the new-aged, old fashioned man that deserves to hold close dream of adventure and the hair on your chin, for it may just be the vigor you need to keep the fire in your soul burning as your skin browns under a thousand morning suns.