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.
How does life become complicated? Why does it happen? How do we fix it?
These questions occur to me once and a while. I’m not always lucid enough to remember just how complex life is — or perhaps I’m blithely unaware of it.
In either case, I think I prefer those times when it does occur to me, because it also highlights my own problematic patterns. And when a problematic pattern is highlighted, you can address it. Its visibility is its weakness, as you can change or slay that which you see.
In this case, there are a couple of patterns that come to mind. First, I have a great desire to learn things. Not quite everything, but certainly a substantial list of things. I’m constantly frustrated by my lack of knowledge of history, or the limits to my scientific understanding. Lumped in with this is the desire to explore those great works of fiction and philosophy that inform our society. Not knowing those means a break in the universe, a separation between the foundations of how the world is and the understanding of how it came to be.