One of the finest Christmas presents I’ve ever received in my adult life was a few years ago when my wife gave me my very own shaving kit that she assembled.
There were no cheap, disposable razors in here. No, no. In the set was a nice, chrome stand that held a badger-hair shaving brush (as hog hair, which are used in most of the shave brushes you find in general stores these days, is a bit too harsh), some shaving soaps to create a lather with the brush, and the piece de resistance – a safety razor.
Never has shaving felt like a finer ritual than with these tools at the ready on our bathroom sink.
I once read someone say something akin to “you haven’t shaved if you haven’t done so like your grandpa did back in the day” and boy, were they right.
I don’t shave every day as my current job doesn’t require me to like the last one did (and even then, I admit occasionally cheating at the office with an electric one at the last minute). I now shave when I feel that the stubble is getting a bit uncomfortable (usually twice a week or so) and when I do, it’s a great experience all thanks to this nice little, thoughtful and very timeless gift.
Some hot water to the face gets the bristles ready and it’s really something to see the lather appear as you spin the brush around the bowl over the shaving soap. There’s all sorts of soaps out there, but my wife went the extra mile and found homemade shave soaps online made from natural materials as opposed to chemicals, which I truly appreciate. Lather it on with the brush generously, then keep that hot water flowing to run the razor under.
I really can’t say enough of just how zen a feeling it can be to stand in front of the mirror, gliding the hot blade of the safety razor across my cheek, wiping away that shave soap lather and the hair along with it.
Put some music on while you do so and you really have a ritual.
I will add, merely as a side note, that when I began shaving this way, it was with a blade made in Germany, versus the blade I’m currently using which was made in Japan. It could just happen to be this particular blade I’m using now, but I find myself getting a few nicks with this one. With the original blade made in Germany, I never got a single nick.
One day I’ll have to teach my little guy how to shave and when we do, I hope we’ll be doing so with these very same tools. There’s something timeless about them, as is knowing that you’re carrying on a method and tradition that has been around for generations prior.
At one point, the Brit talked about how the perception of what success is, is vastly different in America than in some other countries. I found it fascinating. He talked about how here, in America, we say that ‘everyone has the chance to win the race,’ but then said that by the very definition and nature of a race, not everyone CAN win.
There is the adage of wanting to have your cake and eat it too, an adage which our American culture seems to proliferate. ‘You can be a great parent and be a great CEO,’ ‘you can be a great author and be a great family man,’ but the radio hosts were saying that in most cases, that’s just not possible. By putting all of yourself into one thing, you automatically are not putting your all into something else, therefore, neglecting it, even if slightly.
Before the program ended, the question was raised as to just who was determining what success was, asking whose goals it is that we are working toward – ours or the ones that others have created for us? Are we working toward something because we truly want to, or because someone (whether it be individually or culturally) has told us that’s what we need to do.
It’s a bit like I said when I signed off of broadcasting – it’s not about how much money you make, what you do for a living, what religion you are, how many Facebook friends or fans you have. Those are determinations of success that have been created by others, yet pushed onto so many people via a ludicrous culture with misguided priorities.
All this got me thinking about how my own life’s priorities have changed over the years.
When I was 9 years old, I made no bones about telling everyone that I would one day be working as an animator, putting a love of drawing to work every day.
Years later, in college and for some time after, I would have said nothing was going to stop me from becoming a successful screenwriter and filmmaker. However, I made a conscious decision that I didn’t want to pack up my life and take that leap away from my loved ones.
Time went on. I turned my writing background to journalism. I wasn’t going to be Spielberg or Coppola, but Clark Kent? Sure, I could do that. I’d be the best damn journalist I could.
In time, I got married and we had our son. Eventually, I would leave the journalism world, but it didn’t make me any less of a writer.
I still write. I write this blog. I write the comic book Holidaze. I’m working on some possible small film projects. I’ve always got some other writing project going as well. Heck, I now get paid to be a writer for the institution I work for. Yes, I get to say I’m a paid writer now and that is one of the coolest things in the world to me.
I’m sure the 21 year old, overconfident me would have balked, saying it was a film career or bust. The me in my late 20s would have wondered where a plethora of novels were. The 9 year old me would have wondered why I wasn’t animating ducks for Disney.
However, that 9 year old me, 21 year old me, heck, even the 27 year old me, didn’t have a family, didn’t have a wife and a son, and family members he wanted them by as he grows up.
The younger me didn’t realize how having this little man in my life would change my goals in life as well.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying don’t reach for your goals. Please, for the love of all on this earth, go for it! Have dreams! Live them!
Just make sure they are YOUR dreams and YOUR goals that you’re working towards. And understand that, yes, those goals and those dreams may change. Sure, for some of you, they may be the same goals from when you were 4 to 24 to 34 to the rest of your life.
Or they may not.
They may change as you change. That doesn’t make you any less of a person, that doesn’t mean you ‘gave up,’ and that doesn’t make you a ‘loser.’ Believe me, I’ve gone through many of those feelings before coming to the realizations I have.
What I’m saying is, I can still write, I can still pursue projects, but they no longer are the end goal or the success that I look for. I do them because I enjoy them. Years ago, success may have been to make a living off of being a screenwriter, a comic book writer, an author or a filmmaker.
Today, success for me is about being around for that little guy when he needs me, when he wants a storyteller, a helping hand, or just someone to play around with or hug. Being a good father, being a present father, giving my all to that, and to him – that’s what a successful life for me will be.
We all want to know what’s going on inside the minds of our little ones, I’m sure.
Lately, though, I have been especially curious when it comes to the look on our little guy’s face as he flips through books. I know I write a lot about (perhaps ad nauseam) how important our nightly routine of story time is, but I think it must have had some kind of effect, because now the little one year old monkey will spend time during the day, just pulling books off the shelf in his room, or out of his play basket in the living room.
Sometimes he sits and flips through the pages himself (much better than the ripping of pages we found early on), or other times he will launch his arm out, as straight as can be, literature in hand, insisting that I or Meg read it to him (character voices and all).
When he is sitting there on his own, though, I can’t help but be fascinated by what is going on throughout his face. As he turns each page, his eyes moving about the imagery, from left to write, sometimes with a high-pitched ‘ooo!‘ it just makes me so full of joy to see him engaged and entertained. I cold stare at him all day doing that – if he were willing to sit there and do that all day, which just is not in his energetic nature at this stage.
What an experience, though, to see the thought process unfold in his eyes, as you see his mind working upon every page, every picture. It’s a sight to behold and is one of those things that many of us do every day and have long since taken for granted. In this little developing mind, though, each page, each book is just another new intake, a new adventure in his early journey of life.
Man, what a ball I’m having being along for the ride.
It’s been a pretty cool first Father’s Day weekend.
Yesterday, Meg and I took the little guy to a public market (sort of like a farmer’s market, but with additional things like crafts and other vendors alongside the farm stands). and since it’s held outside in the courtyard of a train station, we got to enjoy the beautiful sunny day to the utmost.
Then, we ran some errands that included me finally getting a new pair of sneakers and jeans. You see, I hate spending money on clothes. I really do. I often end up getting updates to my wardrobe at Christmas because I just don’t buy any during the year. I like to see just how long I can make something last, including articles of clothing. It’s just the kind of thing I don’t put much thought to throughout the year, to be quite honest.
With that said, I’ve had the same pair of sneakers for several years, wearing them down to pretty much nothing. I tend to do the same with my jeans, which is why, for the longest time, I had one good pair of jeans and the rest had holes in the knees and became relegated to housework or lounging at home. So, it was pretty momentous to walk out of the store with a pair of sneakers AND a pair of jeans, not to mention a polo shirt, which my wife insisted on paying for as part of Father’s Day, which was incredibly nice of her.
Pretty crazy, for me at least. Though I think Meg just thinks I’m plain crazy.
We ran a few more errands throughout the afternoon before meeting up with my parents for an early Father’s Day dinner for my dad. We gave him a framed picture of the little guy for his desk at work along with some fun smoking accessories for his grill.
I had to duck out late in the evening to fill-in on a partial shift at work, but came home, hit the sheets and actually slept in for a change.
When I awoke, it was to some both funny and touching Father’s Day cards from my wife, my little guy, and yes, our kitties. A big breakfast of French Toast, eggs and hash browns and I have been completely and utterly spoiled.
It’s been wonderful, it’s been more than generous, but honestly, the fact that I get to celebrate Father’s Day is certainly enough for me. Having them all in my life is worth more than any card, gift or breakfast. Not that I’m not thankful for the creativity and generosity, I’m just so incredibly thankful for all of them.
Happy Father’s Day to all you fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, fathers-to-be and someday fathers. 🙂