This blog has taken a backseat to my reality. Instead of paying attention to the other aspects of my life, I was paying attention to what soaps and aftershaves I needed, what I needed to do for this blog, the business I wanted to start regarding wet shaving, and the fact that I was asked to be a judge for a wet shaving related convention.
What I have learned in these past months of my journey has little to do with shaving, razors, soaps and aftershaves. It is not that those things still don’t matter to me, it is the fact that regardless of whether or not I have the newest soap, razor, soap and aftershave, I still have the rest of my life to figure out as well.
For those of you who don’t know what has been going on, my Father had been diagnosed for a third time with cancer. My Dad is a great guy. He has coached me throughout my life with common sense and always gave me good advice along the way. It wasn’t always agreement, however. We’ve had our share of disagreements along the way, but it always meant a lot to me that I could make my decisions and know, in the back of my mind, he also encouraged that I make my decisions with a judge’s mind.
When I got into wet shaving, he was intrigued, and he even had mentioned that he never got a great shave from DE razors. This surprised me. Was he never taught to do multiple passes? As I researched all of it – the procedure, the newest soaps and aftershaves and the various razors, he was always a bit curious about it. We talked on the phone a lot when I wasn’t living close to him and I even decided one year to send him a custom razor from Harry’s just to get him a bit excited about shaving.
He did. He started really enjoying shaving and he listened to me about the things I was getting excited about. I would call him and rave about the latest soap or aftershave I got and it was in those moments I realized that we were truly connecting in a manly way. I was seeing an ordinary process as something extraordinary and much more meaningful than before. The more I shared with him about it all, the more excited he was to hear me talk about it, just as I talked about the variety of other things that have been on my mind, like music or my relationship with my wife or my daughters.
Last year, when Dad called me to let me know he was going to find out the results from Stanford regarding his cancer, I wanted to be there. My wife Melanie was super supportive in getting me out to California to be there with my family as we found out what was happening. What that support from Melanie did for me was free me up to learn more about life and my family and really connect with Dad. I am a huge fan of Robert Bly and one thing I had learned from his teachings as a poet is that as men, we get a kind of spiritual food from our fathers as we sit next to them. This is ultimately what I knew I needed. The kind of food only Dad could give me.
When I came back to be with him during his initial stages of cancer again, we spent a lot of time in the car, as I had volunteered to drive him to his Ozone treatment sessions over in Los Gatos, CA. We talked about old stuff, we talked about his treatments, I had shared with him some of my ideas about what I wanted to do, we got excited about starting a shaving related business called Azweso.com and we kept brainstorming.
With the ongoing changes in my Dad’s life, I was also exploring my own needs as a person. I was all kinds of things; but stubborn is something I consistently am, and I never wanted to move back to my core family back in Illinois unless I absolutely had to. With the pressures I put on myself of thinking the right thing for me to do was to move our family to California, I got distracted. Maybe the best thing I can say about this part of the process for me is that I really wanted to just make everyone happy at once and maybe got a bit selfish. I know how much my parents mean to me, I know how much my family means to me and I know how much I struggled in Illinois to find any true meaning in anything I was doing out there other than to raise my girls and be the best husband I could be. Work, I have found, is more of a way to support my family but once work stopped being that source of support, I became that source of support.
Meanwhile, I saw a lot of changes happening within the Wet Shaving Community. A lot of great changes. New products were coming out, people got along. I even saw friends who initially defriended me come back into my Facebook feed as I had approached them because I knew I made a mistake with them. I also saw someone who I actually like very much decide he no longer wanted to be my friend at all. His words were, “Not everyone gets along.”
It’s an interesting take on a worn out discussion. Are we all meant to get along in the Wet Shaving Community? Should we?
Given the fact that this happened during a pivotal time in my life, where I have seen countless ways of generosity from people within the Wet Shaving Community and knowing that a major player within the community went to war on me because of things I was writing within my blog or defending someone within the community I felt was being mistreated, I felt the blows but knew I was in the right and still feel that way.
I don’t think any vendor has the right to treat a customer badly. I believe that a vendor has a responsibility to make things right with people…. as people do, too. With the upcoming Easter, I choose to have faith that there is always that chance we can make things right in the world with the people who have waged war against us.
As I look at my own journey in wet shaving, one thing I know is I love it. I love the people, I love the passion of everyone and what they get excited about. I love the adventure of every shave I do, every pass I make on my face and every time I slap on that Osage Rub my father also loves. I love the fact that I learned how to use a brush and a razor so then I could in turn, shave my father’s face for his video session, as we have started the video process about his life to present to his grandchildren so they will know who he was straight from the source.
I love the fact that Dad’s favorite soap is Deluxe’s Cool Daddy-O and his favorite aftershave is Fine Accoutrements’ L’Orange Noir. I love that he is still talking to me about shaving even though he has many other things to think about on his own journey.
I have really been enjoying a book right now called “The Anatomy of a Calling” by Lissa Rankin. It talks about how each of us are on a Hero’s Journey.
What I realized with my journey in shaving is it’s just my journey. I am not here to save the Wet Shaving Community, I am just a part of it. It’s not up to me to change anyone’s mind about how they should act within it or what kinds of soaps or aftershaves to try, I am just enjoying the ride every day. I enjoy just getting in that bathroom and trying that soap or cream I haven’t tried in a while. It’s just fun to be alive, getting those damn whiskers off my face because I enjoy having a clean, refreshed face.
I am suggesting then, that the journey I am on is one of self improvement and I can only speculate most of you are on that same journey. It’s just a bit disappointing to know that there is at least one person in the community that only wants to improve the way they make soaps & aftershaves and not how they relate to their customers within the Wet Shaving Community.
That’s it folks, enjoy the rest of your week. Hug your family, hug your dog or cat. I’m going off to see my Hero to enjoy that special relationship I have with him and bringing my daughters over there to see him. I love where I am in life and know the best is yet to come.
Best to you all and thank you for sharing your journey with me. Thank you to all the Artisans for what you contribute to us. Thank you for listening and reading. I am going to post more and have planned to add some features but I am still formulating my ideas for the Wet Shaving Times brand as I go.
Shave on and know you are someone’s HERO today. Be the HERO you are meant to be and don’t settle for anything less. You can do it. Rise above the ones who don’t believe you are a hero. Know I know you are that hero. Don’t let anyone tell you that wet shaving is a stupid hobby. It’s the hobby of HEROES.