the merit of a beard

the merit of a beard
image by dall.e 2

Perhaps I could owe it to my openness, the fact that while transitioning from a major in the natural sciences to computer science, I came into contact with one of the most interesting characters that has graced the comedic play that is my life. Unlike most individuals that I have known, he has been dizzyingly easier to talk to yet even after knowing him for almost two years now, I still cannot accurately place him in the scope of my life’s story. Even more disturbingly, I cannot fully describe what role it is that I play in his life either. Our friendship appears, and often feels, organic (at least to me) yet as I am writing this entry, it is slowly occurring to me just how little we know about each other. On paper, I know the following facts about him: his name, his nationality, his birthday, his hometown, his major, and his eye-gouging sense of fashion. In spite of knowing these simple nuggets that perhaps comprise at most zero point zero zero zero one per cent of his life, it is safe to assume that because every friendship is valuable, no matter the depth, his absence will instigate a lamentable butterfly effect in my life.

Reasonably, I must describe who this boy is so as to capture what it is about him that will trigger a series of unfortunate events if he were to vaporize into thin air today. When I sat down to write about him (and of course, I am only doing so because my quill promised to strike if I didn’t), this line came to mind: He looks at life through green-coloured glasses. No, I am not talking about his love for sustainability initiatives or nature, the only way he would support programs such as reforestation or “No Waste November” is only if money grew on trees. I am judging his love for money and his belief that “deep pockets”, as he calls them, are a basic need to thrive in our world. He is not entirely wrong, you know. There are multiple life necessities that more money can afford, nevertheless, most of those things are material. Granted… less money is often associated with higher levels of stress and poorer health, yet more cash still does not automatically change immaterial elements of one’s life such as one’s ability to attract a committed partner. He says he actively isn’t searching for a relationship and I believe him. Our reasons for his stance though, differ. I think it’s because he has given up on love. He disagrees. He is not an incel. He is a firm believer and benefactor of YOLO in all its senses. You’d think after a full semester in the United States, he would have seen the futility of such a lifestyle, however, when I saw him after a year of us being apart, the only thing that had changed about him was his hairstyle.

I have always joked about how terrible his style is; you will have to see him to believe me. The saying holds true: in every joke, there is always some truth. He is able to get away with dressing like a shelf because (and this is according to him), he is pretty handsome. I think his imagined beauty can be mostly ascribed to the beard that he has been growing. I am a proponent of the school of thought that affirms the central role that facial hair plays in enhancing male beauty. This is why I told him that I am currently holding hostage an album of his old photos, ones in which he has little to no facial hair, and I might just have to use them in the future. I think it is a sufficient collective, this album… because he admires himself immensely and I have the power to remind him of a time when he perhaps didn’t. I am not saying it’s a bad thing to have self-admiration, I preach self-love all the time and it’s nice to see someone live it so fully, so boldly, so… simply. On the other hand, though, physical beauty fades. And I mean that in all senses. There have been only a handful of times that I have seen elderly people and acknowledged that they are beautiful. Oftentimes, I have felt the need to add “for their age”. I am not saying old people are not attractive. No. What I’m saying is this, there is an immense difference between the kind of beauty that youth affords us and that which comes with old age. It just so happens that in our world, the former is much more appreciated, and therefore celebrated, which is why I am not altogether shocked that this friend of mine has focused his energies on appearing good-looking. As for me, I am more intrigued by the inner life of his person. The intelligence of his mind, the love in his heart, and the lessons that he carries from the life he has led, no matter how broken, ill, immoral, evil, or simply cruel his journey may have been.

Necessarily, under the guidance of Jordan Peterson, I am always assuming that the individuals I am talking to know something that I don’t already know. This rule has proved extremely crucial in dealing with this boy because from him, I have learnt quite a lot. I have learnt that it is okay to make fun of myself because life is not that deep. I am learning that it is human to make mistakes and wise to accept that that is a part of life. From him, I have discovered something that most infants grasp by the age of three, that good and bad coexist in everyone. Oftentimes, it is up to us to decide whether the good parts of someone are worth their bad parts. I genuinely think there’s only a handful of things that outweigh a hearty laugh from a friend eating KFC in the middle of the night. So I have had to learn what forgiveness truly feels like from him. Both from the faults he has committed to me and I to him. They don’t matter anymore (at least to me). Because over the past two years, our relationship has taught me that friendships with boys are a million times sweeter when they are not contaminated by the complex feelings of romantic love.

Come to think of it, I find it quite refreshing that because I see how imperfect he is (and I only know this because I needed to write about him), I don’t care about appearing imperfect to him either. And I think that is what good friendships entail. The ability to be oneself without worrying that someone will see your imperfections and run. See, there are many things he can do with the flaws he sees in me, he can laugh about them (he does sometimes), he can share them with his other friends and mock me, or he can write about them and post them on his public website (he doesn’t have one). I frankly wouldn’t care if he were to follow any of the options above because, at the end of the day, I truly don’t know his exact intentions. And I shouldn’t want to. As Adlerian Psychology teaches, other people’s thoughts and opinions about us… are none of our business. So simply, the reason this boy has stayed in my life thus far is because I have decided to only consider what it is that he directly says to me and then only assume goodwill from his actions… until my gut tells me otherwise.

Every time we hang out, we do nothing of substance. We just talk, and the topics are always the same: money, broken hearts, girls, and then a back and forth of one of us trying to get the other to buy KFC, McDonald’s, or Acai. However, it is never boring. Aren’t I lucky to have someone that I can have non-boring conversations with, much less on the same topics over and over again? As I analyzed our friendship, I couldn’t think of anything particularly special about it rather than how deep enough and shallow enough it is. And yes, I do not hope for a deeper friendship with him. That will be greedy. Yet in the remaining few months I have with him, I hope (in vain) that he will keep his promise of taking me go-karting.