The aging process is a heartless phenomenon made only slightly less terrible by the fact that it happens very slowly, and also not only to you, but to everybody else around you.
However, even though the decaying of one’s body is a gradual process that affects the global population, there are still landmark moments that can slap you in the face, and it’s how you react to these moments that measure the true depths of your character. Do you laugh it off as an inevitability of life, as a milestone of something you have no control over, or do you instead freak out and start throwing things?
Personally, I recently chose option 2.
You see, about a year or two ago I was looking intently in the mirror, wondering why my nose had decided to grow in such a funny way, when all of sudden I saw it: a single solitary white hair nestled comfortably in my beard.
“Hi there!” it seemed to say. “Your life is over!! Also, don’t bother to pluck me, as reinforcements will soon be coming!”
While the memory of my immediate reaction is a bit hazy, I’m pretty sure it involved me verbalizing the following: “YYAAARRRRGGGHHH!!!!!” Then, once I’d thrown a few things across the room, I decided to buy a Corvette and go on a backpacking trip to find myself.
Soon after, however, reality began to set in. First and foremost, I would look stupid in a Corvette. I mean, really stupid. Also, finding myself seemed like a lot of work that I really didn’t want to put in, not to mention the fact that no matter what I did, the white hair would still be there.
So I decided that for better or worse, I’d just have to live with it.
At first my strategy consisted simply of not looking at myself in the mirror. However, after a few spinach-stuck-in-the-teeth incidents, I realized that I couldn’t hide from myself forever. I had to accept what was happening and make peace with it.
Reluctantly, I turned to the mirror and began to picture what I’d look like as more and more of my beard turned white and/or gray. At first it was hard, but soon I began to have visions of others who’d gone through it before me:
Gandalf the White
Then it hit me. For some unknown reason, when a man goes gray he suddenly begins to emit an aura of great wiseness and maturity, even if he’s the type of person who can’t operate a revolving door without injuring himself. It’s one of life’s great mysteries. Why is it that all it takes is some salt and pepper in a man’s hair to instantly make him look like the type of person you’d want as your mentor, your financial adviser, your airplane pilot?
Upon realizing this, I smiled. This was great! My beard was eventually going to make me look wiser! And more mature! And more dignified! And the best part was, I’d never been, nor will I ever be, wise or mature! I mean, just yesterday I literally spent 10 minutes at work giggling at the following picture of a surprised koala:
Honestly, I had to leave the room in order to not disturb those around me! That’s surely not somebody you’d want flying your plane or architecting your retirement plan!
So now I don’t even care when a new white hair pops up in my beard. In fact, I’ve begun to look forward to them, and when I do spot a new one when looking in the mirror, I smile and say, “Getting wiser, I see!”
Gray = Wise is one of life’s ultimate farces, and I’m now looking forward to perpetuating it for many years to come. So, ask me your questions about retirement, mortgages, aviation, or just life in general! I’ll be sure to make up something that sounds wise and gives you comfort! It’s my duty as a graying man!
Unless, of course, I’m too busy giggling at the picture of the surprised koala.