One of the first things I did (or didn’t do, depending on how you look at it) upon retiring was to stop shaving. I began growing my “retirement beard”. There were a few reasons for it, ranging from “because I can” to “hey look, everybody – there’s something different about me! Ask me about it!”
I’d tried to grow beards before, but I never made it past day ten, mostly because the vacation would end and I didn’t want to go back to work looking too scruffy. But this time, that wasn’t an issue. The only people to answer to would be THE WIFE, THE NEIGHBOR, and various other folks around Mayberry. THE WIFE was a good sport and played along, although it was pretty obvious to me that she preferred me clean-shaven. Still, she indulged my dalliance into the world of burly facial hair. So I let things go.
I made it to day sixteen before my face began to rebel. I became hyper-aware of every hair on my chin, sort of like when all of the hair stands up on your arm and you are CERTAIN you can feel the breath of insects across the yard. I woke up on day seventeen and went for a run. The whole time I could feel the hair on my chin, and it was speaking to me. “It’s time to go.”
When I returned home, I went upstairs, took a shower, and broke out the trimmer. Maybe I could just trim things up and it would look good and feel better. But as I began trimming away, it became clear that I was going to shave everything off.
So that’s what I did. I returned to my old, clean-shaven look.
Now I’m sure you’re saying to yourself about now “I’m not quite sure why I’ve read roughly 300 words about a guy growing a beard and then deciding to shave once his face began to itch. Is there a point to this?”
Yes. There is.
I’ve always been pretty self-aware, and I know that this was about more than seeing if I could grow a beard and how it would look on me (answers: yes I can, and “good” or “meh”, depending on who you ask). Part of the facial hair was about protest, much like a teenager. I’m not working anymore! Look at me! But that grew tiresome, and it only took two weeks.
I feel like this is one of those first steps down retirement road. Retirement beard? CHECK! I can now return to my regularly scheduled adventure, filling my time and exploring bits of self improvement. Bearded guy was interesting, but it’s not me. I’m far more interested in what I can learn during this time off, both in terms of practical knowledge and what I find to be important. I’m just now wrapping my head around the relief I feel being away from the corporate world, but I still need to face down whether I’ll ever return to it, and if so, under what circumstances. Basically, I’m starting to understand that I need a clear list of priorities.
Now that I have that the beard out of the way, what’s next? Oh yeah – silly shoes.