“The beard signifies the courageous; the beard distinguishes the grown men, the earnest, the active, the vigorous. So that when we describe such, we say, he is a bearded man.” – St. Augustine
There are many reasons for growing a beard: a rebellious streak, in order to be ‘on-trend” or to mimic a role model. Mine was a little different – it was due to illness…
Let me explain: twelve months ago I returned from a business trip to the US with swollen joints and after many medical appointments, tests, x-rays etc I was eventually diagnosed with a rare disease. As a result of this I have been under the care of a number of -ologists including a rheumatologist, a neurologist and a cardiologist. I have also, as you may imagine, been on various medications, among them high dose steroids which have resulted in both weight gain and the dreaded “moon-face”.
At various times I have been instructed to quit or reduce: exercise, sugar consumption, caffeine along with alcohol intake (I’m not sure if any of these steps will make me live longer or if it will just seem longer). Since I am also on long term sick leave growing a beard seemed like a good idea for any number of reasons including :-
- It was one of the few things I wasn’t banned from doing
- As I was off work there was no requirement to comply with any perceived standards from an appearance perspective
- It helped to both offer a disguise and hide the bloated shape of my face
- Having recently started a new course of treatment that makes me slightly more susceptible to skin cancer it also offers an additional layer of protection from the sun’s rays.
The downside of my recent recruitment to the ranks of the hirsute was my wife’s protestations that the Ernest Hemingway look wasn’t to her liking. Since I am given to understand that “He who sacrifices his beard for a woman deserves neither” we have at the present time, reached a stubbly truce.
In my current world of uncertainty my beard offers both certainty and an air of rebellion against life’s challenges. What’s not to like?..