‘I was bound by the beard’

Connor Rice

The power of the unattainable is certainly compelling.

As I absentmindedly stared myself down in the mirror the other morning, I told myself that I needed a shave. However, realizing I was bound by the beard brought about some mixed emotions.

On one hand, here was one less thing I had to do. I, for once in my life, had an excuse to be lazy. I can’t shave. I’ve made a commitment to be part of something bigger than myself: a month-long celebration of grizzled, rugged facial hair.

But with that thought came the realization of what the word “can’t” means. While there are no actual repercussions for a quick trim, honor is at stake.

I went through a similar experience a few years ago when I claimed the straight-edge lifestyle. As a frequenter of hardcore punk shows, where this kind of attitude is surprisingly common, I fell in love with the idea of abstaining from alcohol and drugs. I felt empowered by it, much like the beard on my face does for me currently.

But as time went on, straight-edge became less about “I don’t want to” and more about “I can’t.” So, I decided to have a drink. I decided to have a lot of them, in fact. I decided that I didn’t want to hold myself back anymore with labels and rules in which I didn’t believe.

And so, as I faced the minor dilemma that presented itself in my bathroom, I rubbed my beard and thought about the concept of committing to something and what that commitment actually means. Maybe it was the lack of permanence that growing facial hair touts, but I elected not to give up.

If you’re not shaving this month because you don’t want to, then more power to you. But if these last few weeks are going to prove to be a problem, then cut it off. Don’t go about doing things that you don’t actually want to do, even if they’re as trivial as No Shave November.

Life is too short.