On Shaving Your Head

photoThe last couple of months have been a bit of a whirlwind – I left my day job, wrote a novella, went to camp with my kids, took a 20th anniversary cruise with my wife and some good friends, and did some freelance consulting and graphic design work. Needless to say, writing new essays became a lower priority for a while. Things have settled into a more predictable routine, so I can once again turn my attention to writing here.

So, I shaved my head yesterday. Well, I didn’t exactly shave it with shaving gel and a razor. It’s more of a buzz cut – a really, really short buzz cut. I used the 1/8 inch guard on my clippers and went crazy while the rest of the family was out shopping. When they returned, I’m don’t think they were terribly impressed with the results. On the bright side, they have decided that it is apparently good luck to rub my head. I like that better than rubbing my belly.

Going mostly bald wasn’t totally unexpected. In fact, nature has been moving in that direction for some years now. Having been slowly turning gray since I was in my early twenties, this was essentially inevitable. I just helped things along with decisive and immediate action.

I have been contemplating this for some time, keeping an eye out for others who choose to celebrate their hairlines rather than fight them. I have several friends that have gone this route with some success, and many celebrities choose the close-shaved stubbly look. Jason Statham wears it particularly well. While we were on our cruise, I also spotted an average-looking guy about my age that really rocked the look. He was well-tanned, bespectacled, and dressed casually. Since I needed a haircut anyway and it’s hot outside, I decided to just do it and see what happened.

Here are my conclusions:

  • I am not Jason Statham.
  • When I eventually go completely bald, I know that my head will not be terribly misshapen.
  • A tan is essential. Pasty heads bring the word “underbelly” to mind.
  • If glasses slightly improved my looks with hair, they greatly improve them with no hair.
  • You have to be of average build to really pull this off. Bald, overweight guys look more like bouncers than anything else.

On one hand, this might have been a stupid thing to do. While I was running the clippers over my head, I kept hearing Bill Cosby’s voice asking “Was your head with you all day today?” While not permanent, it is certainly irreversible. I’m stuck with a bald head for at least a little while until it grows out.

On the other hand, who cares? I wanted to see how it would look and now I know. I’ll get a little teasing from friends and family, but no one else will care at all. I have no appointments for formal portraits any time soon, so it was a good time to experiment. In a couple of weeks, it will just look normal. Even though my wife referred to this as a “bold move,” it is a genuinely modest risk in the grand scheme of things.

Fear of change convinces us to stick with the status quo. Change is risky and dangerous, and we know that it could be a turn for the worse. Fear convinces us to stick with what we know, even if it is unpleasant. A healthy fear is a good thing, protecting us from real dangers, but too much fear can make us avoid changes that are both positive and necessary.

Shaving my head is a personal reminder to try something new once in a while, especially when there is little or no risk involved. Success breeds success. When we practice facing our fears in small, low-risk situations, we prepare ourselves to overcome the truly debilitating fears that accompany important life decisions.

Take a small risk once in a while. Take a different route home. Mow your lawn in the opposite direction. Wear something unexpected. Just do something different. You might be surprised with the results.

 

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