I recently had dinner with an uncle I had not seen in about four years, and the first thing he said was “Wow! You’re old!. Shave the beard, man.”
My wife noted that I should have replied, “well, you’ll always be older.”
But I wear the gray without shame, and indeed a kind of pride, for the salt and pepper and the emergent wrinkles are earned. Some years are harder than others, and the last few have been especially tough. I’ve aged. Stress, two jobs, four kids, and unrequited dreams will leave a mark upon any man. I accept it.
While I miss the physical strength and regenerative prowess of my youth, I can look in the mirror and grin at the gray. I’ve made it this far; I can keep going. Wiser, more compassionate, more faithful than I was in my younger years. I appreciate life more than I did, and as time grows shorter, I am conscious of the fleeting preciousness of it. The hard times still grind, yet there is hope in me for those moments of peace and sunshine, and as I grow long in the tooth, I hope to find more of them.
Objects of Wrath will be released in a couple of weeks, and I’m thrilled, humbled, and grateful in a way I would not have been ten or twenty years ago.
The gray is earned, a constant reminder of the sand in the hourglass. I’ve put in the work and the years. I won’t be shaving my beard.