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 13 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,

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!

About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is the web\‘s Simple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Private Practice Counsellor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the latest being The. Best. Relationship. Ever. See: –The Phoenix Centre Press

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