The Pathless Path

Wayne C. Allen – a simple Zen guy – writes about living and relating elegantly

Retirement Beard

Synopsis: retire­ment beard — who are you doing what you do for?

So, bummer. I’m trying to type this on my tablet, using a Bluetooth keyboard, and I got 1/3 writ­ten and the program crashed. Merde.

Anyway, we’re in the middle of a 9 day road trip in Costa Rica. Our condo isn’t ready until the 27th. The compen­sa­tion is that the three stops each have hot springs.

Wayne’s books on simi­lar themes to today’s arti­cle:
This Endless Moment

~~~~~

retirement beard

So, the topic of the day is retire­ment beards, but not really. I just learned this term from a arti­cle. It seems that promi­nent people are grow­ing full beards upon retire­ment. Dave Letterman is the most famous — he looks a bit like a deranged Santa Claus.

That beard. Those eyes.

Yesterday, I was lean­ing on the balcony, smok­ing a cigar and talk­ing with Darbella, and this came up. Ya just never know about topics. I’d been with­out hot water for shav­ing for 5 days, and my beard was fill­ing in. I mentioned the arti­cle, and this led me down memory lane.

I’ve had a beard pretty much since 1975. The bank I worked at the 2 years previ­ous would only let me have a mustache, so I grew it as soon as I could.

mad monk

Following that, in the 80s, I got a perm and a ministry degree, and let the beard and hair go wild. I thought of it as a protest, and since I liked the minis­ter outfits, I looked a bit like Rasputin.

I shaved off the beard for a year or so in the mid-90s, and again it was because I was “making a state­ment.” My present goatee dates back more than 5 years, and harkens to my love of Jazz, I guess.

I really do have a point.

As I was talk­ing to Dar about retire­ment beards, I felt an urge to let mine grow, and I likely will. But then, I started to think about the things we do to “mark our tribes.”

As a child of the 60’s, I had the requi­site long hair, bell bottoms, etc. I even had a Nehru jacket, and let me tell ya, that went out of style in a month.

I marched for civil rights and against the war in Viet Nam. I supported the proper left-wing causes. But really, I was mostly the outfit, remind­ing me of this ditty:

I see by your outfit that you are a cowboy.
I see by your outfit that you are one too.
We see by our outfits that we are both cowboys.
If you buy an outfit, you can be a cowboy too.

The retire­ment beard is such a thing. An outfit, if you will. A “See? Up yours!” kind of state­ment, right up to “I can look like a bum! But I’m rich! See? I no longer care!”

And maybe they don’t, but it seems a bit desper­ate.

Me too. The Rasputin look was certainly designed to be in the face of others. Not that I was partic­u­larly aware of it at the time.

What I’m getting at here is that perhaps it might be more prof­itable to think a bit about how or whether we need to play to the crowd. To perhaps go in the oppo­site direc­tion, and not play to the crowd at all.

I once had a client who was married to a guy who thought he was Jesus. The real one. He thought that when he died, God was going to really want to talk to him, and that in the mean time, the rest of us should do what­ever he said.

His wife had had it, and was going to leave him.

Then, then next week, she couldn’t, and it was always, “What will people think?” She couldn’t get that no one cared. Took her 18 months of week by week back and forth to actu­ally leave.

Or, here’s a story from my out-of-print book, Stories From the Sea of Life (you can get a copy by subscrib­ing to the infre­quent updates at our other site, http://www.phoenixcentrepress.com)


Being a Liberal

I had a brief couple of coun­selling sessions with a young woman, while I was coun­selling at a University. She was mostly concerned with her sex life, which was not turn­ing out as she had planned.

We discussed it at length, because there was no depth. She was in her first year, and she wanted to be in an adult rela­tion­ship, and be loved. So, she had been pick­ing up men in campus bars. She’d see a guy, think he was cute, start a conver­sa­tion and end up in his bed. Or hers. The few men that hung around past morn­ing rapidly lost inter­est in her, or started cheat­ing on her. In bars.

We discussed the possi­bil­ity that men in bars, on aver­age, were not there look­ing for the woman they were going to marry. They were look­ing for a one night stand. She thought she should be able to change their mind. She agreed, after a bit, that maybe context and loca­tion was impor­tant. After all, you don’t buy lumber at plumb­ing stores.

By the next session, she reported she’d managed two weeks with­out going to a bar. This, she thought, was good, but had certainly dimin­ished her chances for a rela­tion­ship. So, she had joined the campus Liberal Party. She had gone to a rally. She had bumped into a guy who was cute. They talked, had a sand­wich. They went back to the rally. He stood behind her. His hands wandered into her clothes. She thought, “I’ve found true love!” She took him to her room. They had sex. He left in the morn­ing.

I asked her why she’d consented to sex on the first date, with a stranger. She replied, “Because I’m a Liberal.” I said, “Pardon me???!!!” She said, “If you’re a Liberal and some­one asks you for sex, you have to say yes. You obvi­ously don’t under­stand.” End of ther­apy.

The only way this situ­a­tion can change is for the young lady to decide to change her under­stand­ing of what she will allow to happen in her life. She needs to watch the outcomes and notice the patterns. She needs to stop asso­ci­at­ing sex with love. She needs to take respon­si­bil­ity for her outcomes. Otherwise, she is doomed to change locales, but never change her level of self-esteem.

And imag­ine what would have happened if she’d been an N.D.P.!

OK, so my point? Be water.

No, really.

Decide to be you, for you. Go with who you are, not who you think others want you to be. Don’t just go along for the ride.

Don’t just wear the tee shirt. If you believe in social action, go be active. Less talk, more action, and less concern about how your act is play­ing.

If your iden­tity is mixed up in your facial hair, or the length of your skirt, or some other exter­nal, let it go.

Be who you are, with­out reser­va­tion, but… do it for you.

Be water, and go with the flow. Everything else is an illu­sion anyway!


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