Monday morning I did something that I would have never imagined doing prior to five months ago: I shaved on a snow day.
I mean, who does that? Granted, prior to a few years ago I wouldn’t have imagined having a snow day in the first place, but that’s small potatoes compared to the larger point: I made the effort to shave when I was neither going out nor even just entertaining guests. For me, that’s weird.
Or it was weird, I should say. Things have changed, both my attitude toward the matter and the way in which I do it. After a life time of shaving with multi-bladed cartridges, I switched to an old fashioned, single blade, double-edge razor. What prompted the change was simple: double-edge razor blades cost as little as 6-7 cents each. That’s right, cents. I figured at that price I’d be crazy not to give it a try.
But that’s not why I stuck with it. Double-edge shaving takes effort. It takes skill. It takes practice, practice, practice. And even when you’re good at it, a bit of casualness or carelessness and you’re risking a real bleeder, a rough face, or both.
When I was contemplating buying my first double-edge razor I didn’t know that, though I did realize it was going to take more work and attention. I did have one thought on my mind:
“I hope this doesn’t make me a hipster…”
Now, if you’re of the hipster variety then that’s your business. But, I didn’t want to go down that road, where things are done for sarcasm’s sake. I didn’t want my morning to start off with ironic pleasure at the fact that I’m shaving in 2014 with something invented over a hundred years ago. I wanted to shave my face, not indulge in uniqueness just so I could be different. That’s not me, nor do I want it to be (existentially, perhaps this was just double downing on things by doing something that some might see as ironic, but then finding a reason to do it other than the sarcastic reason they expect, but since I just thought of that five months in I don’t know that I’m that clever).
It worried me, not enough so that I didn’t do it but enough so that I wondered what was really in it for me. Sure, it saves money, but was that all there was to it? Maybe at first, but since I’ve started I’ve found a much more important reason: satisfaction.
Satisfaction can come in a lot of ways. It can mean that something has meet the basic requirement, and thus the result, while perhaps not great, is satisfactory. It can mean that you’ll soon be dueling a Southern gentleman. For me, in this context, I think I can best describe it as some combination of pleasure and fulfillment. There might be a better word for that feeling out there, but I’ll settle for this one until I find it.
I’m not saying that old fashioned shaving has fulfilled all my hopes and dreams, filled a missing spot in my life, or changed my outlook on world poverty. It’s shaving for crying out loud. But is helping me develop appreciation for something that as I get older I’m finding more and more applicable in many parts of my life: the value of doing things in a slower, more patient, more attentive manner. The value of effort, when effort isn’t needed.
I was never a gearhead, never got into wood or metal working, and if I had perhaps I’d have come to this conclusion sooner. Perhaps I just needed to age enough to appreciate it. But much like someone wants to change their own oil or adjust timing, build themselves a bookshelf, or what have you, I’ve found that there is both enjoyment and satisfaction to be had in taking the personal approach. Knowing your tools, evaluating your need, focusing on the work, and then reaping the rewards of a job well done.
Sure, you might get a good job done faster and easier if you spent a bit more money. To some that would be money well spent, just as I spend more on certain things I don’t particularly enjoy doing rather than doing them myself. But the time and effort is paying off in forming what has become a relaxing morning ritual, a way to transition to the focus and professional mindset that the day requires.
And that’s where the sarcasm has no place. While I’m sure there are plenty of people out there shaving with a double-edge, single edge, or straight razor who are doing it as some ironic expression or sarcastic stunt so they can feel different or better than someone else, for me it is much simpler. It’s fun, it’s cheap (unless the hobby factor takes over), it’s a great shave, and it takes effort.
In my rush to save time, to get more done faster, to be more efficient, I lose sight too often of the value that steady, patient effort can have on the soul. But I’m getting it back, one morning at a time.