As we wrap up #Movember, the time of the year for mustaches and beards, I think back to November 2016 when I grew my salt and pepper beard out. I had no idea just how grey it would be. Needless to say, I was surprised. I didn’t want to cover my face but I felt a burning inside me that the time was right to commit to an act that I had only committed to once before in my life. Now, 1 year later I give thought to and reflect on what the beard now means to me? What have I learned?
First, what is “beard” defined? As a noun, it may be just the hairy, whiskery growth on one’s face, but the verb is defined as the ability to “boldly confront or challenge”, “to stand up against”, “to dare” and “come face to face with.”
What does my beard mean to me?
— It means to stand up, on my two feet firmly planted on the ground in this world. To stand up for what is right. To stand in my integrity despite the odds and evils around me. To stand with others who can’t stand. To stand and act as a support for those who need it most, in the most trying of times. To have deep enough roots to not waver and fly away in the winds of insult or temptations. To stand but also have the capacity to be flexible and be able to soften. To stand against bigotry, hatred, injustice and sexism.
— To confront. To confront my own internal demons, as insurmountable as they often may seem. To confront my own ego, just as we all do. To not be afraid to go into the dark, within and follow the unseen path to where it may not be comfortable or recognizable. To boldly and directly confront, silently, in words or through my actions and not run away and hide from those who hate, who try to bring others down, who only think about themselves, who bully and demean. This is not to pick fights unnecessarily or cause animosity. But it is to speak truth and live in my element. It is to walk my talk. If I am to counsel other human beings on these very same principles I should absolutely follow my own advice.
— To come face to face. With my own humanity. With how little time we have and how it should be treated as absolutely precious as possible. How we have just one chance. The reality of just how small I am in this world. Just a speck, but with potential to do so much with the gifts I have been given. To be a good human being. To give to others who are less fortunate, to reduce my footprint, to be a positive influence and role-model. To not be a taker, a soul-sucker, an energy vampire or an unnecessary burden on others. To have good relationships, to reciprocate, to be a good partner and a good listener. To be inspirational, to teach others and hopefully make an imprint, even a small one, on the lives that I come into contact.
— To dare. To dare myself to take risks, to push myself emotionally, physically and spiritually beyond what I previously thought I was capable. To occasionally and maybe more often jump without a parachute. To take the leap of faith. No one knows what’s on the other side or what’s waiting ahead, but if we are to learn, grow, adapt and become wiser, we must dare to face these fears, insecurities and doubts head on and just “go for it.” (as one of the most special people in my life has told me).
If the beard signifies men’s health awareness, this means that we should take the time to understand, to be aware, what it means to be a man and how to be “well.” We can live to be better men and humans in this world not just during the month of November. We can consciously commit to breathing this and living this each day, each week, each month and year that we get to so graciously spend on this Earth.
Let’s continue to empower each other to become better men in this world. Let’s connect and go to deeper depths of our souls. Don’t be afraid gentlemen! It’s time for us to tap into this side more. To express the yin to our yang. To support others and not be afraid to be supported by others. To ask for help when we need it. To admit when we are wrong and face our insecurities. To fight cultural and social norms of having to be “tough” “rugged” or even flat out “dumb.” It’s time for things to shift in a BIG way in today’s world. So grow your beards wild — not just on the outside, but on the inside too. Do it for your kids, do it for your spouses, do it for your families, do it for future generations and do it for YOU.
So what does your beard mean to you???