Friday, January 25, 2008

Barber Shops and Psychiatry...

There was no real need for me to get a haircut today. I thought it was the perfect length, and really, I can just use more hair gel to hold down the curls that pop up in the back on really humid days - but the Barber Shop is a place that I wanted to be this morning -

That's what's good about coming home - even though you know that there are things out there that need to be handled and need to be taken care of, you still miss the common things that made life enjoyable.

My barber is a pretty big guy, and his barber shop has been in the basement of 200 W Forsyth Street in Jacksonville for somewhere around 30 years - it seems he knows everybody in Jacksonville, and always has a good joke, a friendly handshake, and a sharp straight razor. His wit is dry and practical, I guess after years of listening to business men talk about their endeavors and problems, he has sharpened his scissors on the stones his clients carry around with them. The best part is that he is a true psychiatrist for a large number of us - he listens and has no fear of saying where on the dumbass meter you sit. The drugs he prescribes are the smells and sounds of a barber shop, the sweet smell of the hot shaving lather, the rhythmic tin sound of the scissors, and the detail he pays as he works his craft. His shop is a true barber shop - you will not find any picture books of hairstyles, but you do know that there is a recent copy of Playboy laying around on the top shelf, and he keeps those out of reach of the kids - the more tame reading of Sports and Fish, and Wildlife, and Consumer Digest are proudly displayed on the table. Every so often, I walk by, and he is sitting waiting for his next appointment (you don't need one, but they are highly recommended), and seeing him sit there, you kind of want to just go in and get a shave or a haircut, just to experience the barber shop again...

So - now let's get to the heavier stuff. (I know anyone who is reading this is saying "Hell Yeah - let's challenge our souls now) - I have lost some of my wittiness in these posts - so I need to probably add some to not lose one of the two or three readers that actually look at this - I read an interesting quote today in (of all things) a Daily Motivational book - "Love without deeds does not really exist, just as talent not demonstrated in creative ways does not exist. Both must be expressed or they are just a myth."

That is a damn good quote - how do we express love? I think my barber loves what he does because I can see and feel that he is genuinely concerned by the way his product looks and feels - but in life, how do we get through the day by expressing both our talent and love to those around us? All of the mechanisms that we build up to make ourselves the image we want to be are terrible defenses - and we do it in our relationships everyday. Frankly, I have lost the desire to build up those defenses, I am happy (whether on the road or at home) being brutally honest about the things around me - but I guess I should share what I think is the best way to love -

1. Listen - Keeping my mouth shut is tough - I wear a size eleven shoe, and have conveniently enough room to fit a size 12. Hearing someones voice and exercising the listening skills are wonderful - even when what the other person is saying may be painful or even stupid - just listening to their concerns or even their experiences seems to express love. I know when I am being genuinely listed too, and I suspect that I am not the only one. I love to listen - you can hear a persons life in their inflections, and you can paint a wonderful picture with their words.

2. Enthusiasm - Hell, all of 92%ers run short on enthusiasm sometimes - but even if you fake it, it's not too hard to eventually be enthusiastic. People who know me will tell you I am pretty excited all of the time - that is more a function of my mental issues, but hell, at least my love for life rubs off! I want to see those folks I am visiting, I want to do different things - hell, I am even happy to fold laundry sometimes - just the thought of being enthusiastic about the next step in any situation is good.

3. Touch - There is nothing (in our sterile work environment) that goes further than the offer of a handshake, or a hand on someones shoulder as a sign of affirmation that you are happy they are there, and you enjoy seeing them. In our personal lives, I know that when my son touches my face, or my daughter gives me that short wet good night kiss, or when my dad just hugs me - that I can feel their love - there is nothing sexual, dirty, or perverse about it - it is what we need to feel - together and loved.

Those are the three big ones - I notice everyday that you can have nothing in common with a person, but if you listen, are happy, and can reaffirm with just a genuine grasp that they feel needed and loved - and that, no matter where you are, makes all of the difference in the world.

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