Every year about this time our thoughts tend to be focused on events of the past and making resolutions about how we would like the upcoming year to turn out. Many of us have fond memories associated with our wet shaving hobby because traditionally our thoughts about shaving have been associated with the holiday shopping season; not only buying presents for the men in our lives, but also because of memorable holiday television advertising. We have been trained to think of shave product advertisements year round. We see commercials by professional baseball players in the Spring and Football players in the Fall. In fact, television advertising has become a very key element of our holiday "spirit". When we start seeing the holiday commercials we know it is time to prepare and our child like excitement grows.
Here in Oklahoma City there is a catchy radio and television jingle for BC Clark Jewelers. Their anniversary sale is at Christmas time. If you stopped the average adult on the street probably 7 or 8 out of 10 could sing that jingle word for word without missing a beat.
The holiday season starts around Remembrance or Veterans Day, continues with Halloween and progresses through Hanukkah and Christmas. Retailers seem to put up seasonal items for sale earlier and earlier each year to maximize "holiday sales" which constitute 80-90 percent of all annual sales. During this time of year our minds travel backwards to childhood and the way things used to be. Hopefully, these memories of times past are pleasant, warm and cozy. Sadly, for some...far to many...find this time of year painful, lonely and very depressing.
For some, these dark feelings can continue and build through Valentines Day when broken hearts and thoughts of lost loves and present loneliness intensifies as the dark days of winter howls amid ice, snow and long dreary nights. By the start of April when the winter thaw is definitely done bringing Spring showers, budding flowers and fresh green grass, some people are still not seeing a light at the end of Winter's dark tunnel but become in fact even more despondent and hopeless.
The changing of the season in early Spring brings new life, green hills, colorful flowers and a time of hope and joy. But tragically for those who are alone, sad, in grief and emotionally hurting...when they see the dark days of Winter beginning to end, it doesn't bring happy feelings and a glad heart. The disappointment and lack of hope that things would be better (in their hearts, souls, and feelings) in the Spring, leads them to fall into an even deeper pit from which it seems impossible to climb out. A greater number of suicides, incidents of child abuse, domestic violence and attempted suicide often occur in the month of April than any other time of year. Memories can be good things or nightmarish. Memories can trigger happiness and hope or sadness and despair.
For me, becoming more involved in the hobby of traditional wet shaving spurs fond memories of my male elders who are now long passed, a connection to history and an association with what it feels like to be a man. These memories are bitter sweet with both portions of happiness and grief. I remember my grandfather shaving with a straight razor, the evening shaves of my father with his Gillette Slim Adjustable, the aroma of Old Spice, and the feelings of a more simple existence that is the essence of being a child of the post WWII early 1960's. Over the years I have processed the loss of these very important people and now the fond memories far out shines the sting of tears of grief.
By the end of the 60's our world had changed dramatically seeing assassinations, rioting, terrorist groups, war protests, and by the Bicentennial year of the USA in 1976 we had seen a president forced from office, an energy (oil) crisis and a bloody war; all played out in our living rooms on the nightly evening news. Television had successfully become a major element of our lives; an intricate and powerful force that all but replaced the influence of family, common sense, community or tradition.
As a society we use to trust each other, our elders, community leaders, government, societal institutions, and more than anything else, Walter Cronkite on the evening news. Television advertising benefited from these feelings of trust and took advantage of it. Our eyes had not yet been opened to the tricks and slight of hand that is the warp and woof of mass media advertising (a kind word for propaganda).
It has only been within the past decade or so that more and more people have begun to realize that when it comes to shaving, there is a better way. More and more men and women are realizing that a simpler formula works better than a complicated one, when it comes to shaving. A single sharp blade paired with a basic soap and proper skin and beard/whisker preparation can more effectively and comfortably remove hair than stacked blades, twirling motors, or gimmicky expensive products hawked by television spokespersons.
I challenge you in 2014 to become more aware of the plight of the people you encounter every day...family...friends...business associates...acquaintances...online friends. Don't allow your humanity to be absorbed into the Borg Collective of satellite beamed hyper media, instantaneous sensationalized information, mindlessly flashed sound bites, and thought numbing pastimes and distractions. Reach out to the people around you each day gently and compassionately. This Winter and Spring, take the time to recognize their true condition and needs and that maybe the warmer days and sunny skies may only make some people's heartache worse and not better. Also realize that awakening to the truth can be difficult, more threatening and frightening than stepping into the light and changing old habits.
Try to be more thankful for and compassionate to those you usually walk by and ignore in your busy, media driven lives. Slow down, pause, think, turn off (your televisions, computers, cell phones, video games, etc.) and get in touch with life again and the flesh and blood people you encounter each day.
We live our lives too fast paced and filled with meaningless distractions, and are perpetually overloaded with all types of mass media buzzing in our ears. We have been robbed of so many good things that used to be common threads in our lives. Take time to enjoy your shaves, using the simple products, the common traditional scents, the inexpensive and value packed, the quality filled and more expensive treats.
Slow down...become aware...share what you know; reach out to the less fortunate, the heavy of heart, the empty of soul, the financially stressed, the educationally deprived...which includes those suffering under the yoke of modern wet and dry shaving with multi-blades, spinning rotors, canned goop, and trendy scents.
This year (2014) share the joy of traditional wet shaving with the less fortunate masses...spread the joy of a life lived simpler, slower, easier, and...maybe if you avoid RAD...cheaper. We are the lucky ones...the fortunate few, who have found...or more accurately...rediscovered something of value...a precious pearl that has been buried deep within the pig pen of mass media corporate marketing.
I know that traditional wet shaving may seem old fashioned but it is a tried and true path to comfortable, enjoyable, smooth - efficient shaves. Don't hoard it...share it - which ultimately means giving a part of yourself to someone else, sharing happiness and the spark of life and friendship, which sometimes may involve giving a PIF (Paying It Forward), even if it involves paying overseas shipping.
Good Shaves, Be Happy, Be Safe