RIP, my beard circa 2003-2011: may you return soon

I, like most, have my fears, misgivings and sensitivities. Like most, I seek to overcome them when I can, challenge myself to face my insecurities and my beliefs and my stable yet unhelpful patterns.

I’ve just challenged another one: I shaved.

I have almost always conceived of myself as a bearded man. I have worn a beard for the better part of the last 20 years. On two or three occasions, I have shorn the beard entirely, just to rattle myself, or to stifle my dependence on that self-image, or something.

Actually, the reasons for my follicular violence are never that clear. In this current case, I can only point to a few motivating factors, such as my frustration over an inability to get a hair cut, something I’ve needed for months and yet have either conveniently found excuses against or have simply forgotten about. I detected this pattern of avoidance, but it’s a strong one and resists direct attempts to change with rationality.

Have I talked about my theory of patterns and mental behaviour before? Probably not, as I’ve never really worked it out other than intuitively.. I’ll leave that for a time when I have more time (a negative pattern of avoidance), and leave it aside to be the focus of a post rather than an aside or distraction (a positive pattern of earnest focus).

Have you ever found it difficult to change a habit? I have several habits I want to change, but usually aren’t conscious enough about them when they happen to stop them. When I don’t think about them directly when doing them, how can I stop them?

I set up behaviour patterns which get things done, usually playing off of deeper established patterns of annoyance. Usually, this manifests itself as putting something deliberately not right, so that my deep pattern of “things should be put right” is tweaked into doing something that needs doing.

(And here I wasn’t going to talk about patterns…)

In this case, I have always felt that I don’t look good with long hair when I don’t have a beard. The last time I had long hair, I let it grow for about 7 years. I really hated it toward the end, but found myself having a difficult time motivating myself to go get my hair cut. (I believe that’s a pattern of self-image and uncertainty toward what makes my self-image look better; while I don’t like the current image of my self, to change it might or probably will be worse.)

I shaved off my beard then, and within a week, I went to get my hair cut. (The exact details are probably wildly different, but the details aren’t actually as important as the memory or sentimental pattern of remembrance of them is..)

I think that’s what finally motivated me to leap on board the bald-faced train (to utterly decimate a metaphor). Oh, there are coincidental features like the notion of “octobeard” (and the similar but more focussed one of “Movember”), but I think most part of myself see those as cardboard signs rather than real solid foundations.

Still… I really hate how I look without a beard, and will use this month to grow something back. I will admit that, similar to my haircut image issue, there is a beard shape issue. My beard was getting unruly and somewhat ridiculous anyway. I never shaped it in any significant way, never trimmed it and didn’t even really know what trimming could be done. Now, I start again, with a blank slate, and will be trying things out.

I may not be a scientist in terms of detailed note-taking, but I am one in terms of wanting to observe changes over time, or speculating on something and then trying it out. Perhaps that really makes me more of a science fiction author than a scientist, but I haven’t really exercised that part of me yet.

I’m going to be blogging more often, I think. I need to express myself, for whatever reason, in longer segments than my frequent Twitter messages. I never know what these are going to be about, nor do I plan them in any great depth. They are, perhaps, more exercises and mind dumps than true posts.

But they do seem to live up to my site’s slogan: “Stuff that keeps me up at night”.

So, onward and beardward. I’ll try to post a picture each week of the progress of my beard. I only hope that there is some…

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