To those who are wondering, no. I am not growing a beard. I am raising a beard. There is a distinct difference between the two actions, in that one suggests passivity, while the other implies a much more active and deliberate process. Remember, design is deliberate.
Raising a beard is not just the absence of shaving, it is the presence of not shaving. Kind of like typography. It’s not really the letters that make up the words, but the space within (and even between) the letters that does. Whitespace. Negative and positive space. Like music. It is the space between the notes that matters. Unless you’re Charlie Parker and there is no space between your notes, and you couldn’t even slide a piece of paper between them because they are so tightly packed together.
But you are not Charlie Parker. You are not one of the most influential jazz musicians ever to live. You could be, though, you could get to that point, and that is why we are here.
Why are we here?
We are here to destroy and subsequently rebuild ourselves. Indeed, as part of this process I have found solace in the beard. Yes, these are the things to which we aspire, to achieve once again this incredible degree of bad-assery.
It took hard work to get there. A lot of hard work. I’m not even sure it can be accomplished in this environment, what without sun and elevation and hauling 70-pound backpacks through the grizzly-ridden wilds of Yellowstone. This is a different environment, with a different definition of bad-ass, but what happens when these worlds collide? Let’s find out. Perhaps we will crash and burn, but by then at least we will know. Zen Dog himself tells us it is not the destination, but the ride, that is important.
Zen Dog also tells us that he is a pirate. If you did not know this then you are not paying attention. You should wake up. As it was once so eloquently put:
“Me and my friends have been too busy sunbathing off the southern coast of St. Bart’s with spider monkeys for the past two weeks, tripping on acid. Changed our whole perspective on shit.” SOURCE (a good HCI academic always cites his sources).
Indeed, I have discovered that this beard, being a physical manifestation of the current broke-ass state of my brain, acts as a feedback loop. I feel gnarly inside, all twisted and confused and somewhat jittery after my twelfth cup of coffee. All this coffee does something to me, physiologically, such that I occasionally must attend to a room with mirrors in which I participate in socially unmentionable activities. This room has mirrors, yes, and I look at myself in these mirrors and there’s this scraggly beard looking back at me. The beard opens its mouth, speaks, says, “I know how you feel.”
Suddenly it doesn’t bother me so much anymore, that my brain has become unhinged and fractured. The beard knows. The beard understands. It is a reflection of my inner state, an admission that yes, it is okay to feel this way. It is okay to be grizzled. This process, this process of becoming, it isn’t a clean process, it is messy and chaotic and frustrating and punctuated with stray bits of food and milk that hang around longer than would be considered proper.
I go zen. I put on my eye patch and ride an innertube down the Namekagon River. Tied to my innertube with a scrap of Finley’s Fine Twine is another innertube, a tiny innertube with a cooler, a cooler filled with ice and water but above all filled with awesome.
This river may or may not obliterate you. Remember, though, that no matter what you do, no matter what happens, hold onto your awesome. Do not, under any circumstances, let that go.
You hear me?
Hold onto your awesome.