In my lifetime I wonder how many times I have heard the phrase “peace and quiet”. “Could I have just a little ‘peace and quiet’ around here?” is the primary utterance of parents around the world, particularly from us fathers. Mothers are somehow uniquely immune to the noise of children playing. It comes with the “mommy gene” pre-installed and hitting on all cylinders most of the time. That is why my shaving time is so important to me. On a good day it offers 15-20 minutes of precious peace and quiet...if the lock on the bathroom door is working properly.
What makes traditional wet shaving so different than the other types of shaving is the simple fact that it is more than simple grooming. It embodies the possibility of more than a task to be completed daily. It can rise to the level of a hobby or interest when considering many of the other finer points that can come into play like shaving history, fragrances, and many other factors. Yet there are some things that push traditional wet shaving into the realm of something more ethereal and spiritual and that is where the concept of “peace and quiet” comes to bear; a daily vacation from the trials and tribulations of life, an oasis in a desert of turmoil and noise.
In my mind the phrase “peace and quiet” goes hand in glove with the famous line from the US Declaration of Independence, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” In fact, I think Thomas Jefferson really missed a good opportunity by not continuing the phrase thusly: "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, which cannot be fully possessed in absence of daily Peace and Quiet." Yes, peace and quiet should be one of those things guaranteed to every man and woman with the full force of law to maintain its delivery and maintenance. But our modern world has so few opportunities to experience it. In fact modern society discourages peace and quiet and applauds the constant beat and throb of an endless stream of multi-media diversions and continuous entertainment and avoidance of boredom. Bread and circuses - smoke and mirrors - shuck and jive - do not look behind that curtain - do not pass go, do not collect $200.
Sadly, the fate of mankind is to bring forth offspring and with such a unique curse/blessing there comes consequences. If you will observe, the younger a child is, the higher their desire for noise and commotion, as demonstrated by the almost constant wailing of infants. If their butts are the least bit wet or dirty they must cry. Even a wet fart evokes a burst of crocodile tears due to the sheer surprise and unique sensation alone. An empty belly or a slight gassy tummy ache brings screams of such magnitude you would think murder was being committed if not solely in your minds eye alone.
As a child grows older their tolerance for hunger and dirtiness increases but the need for noise and turmoil continues and grows in complexity if not sheer volume. A toddler just loves to crawl into the kitchen cabinet and drag out the pots and pans and proceed to beat on them with whatever weapon that fits their tiny paws.
Next comes the pre-school and school age stages of development and singing or play noises abound. The nursery rhymes invariably require repeating over and over and over again in an endless loop. Lord forbid if a dear misguided mother should happen to introduce the playing of a musical instrument into the situation because in such an hallucinatory fog her little darling must be a prodigy and soon to be famous.
Little girl sounds are only slightly more pleasant than little boy noises. Little boys are often enamored by the sounds of machinery, namely vehicles such as trucks, cars, trains, planes and motorcycles. Little girls tend to gravitate to less mechanical noises such as the clipity clop of horse hooves, playing jacks, jumping rope or simply a running narrative of whatever is going on, be it playing house or dressing dolls. The need to talk progresses and in fact continues into adulthood. Such a need to communicate is a mystery to so many of us men. We prefer our caves (or shave dens) where solitude and silence is golden to us. Many a marriage has ended due not to the exceptional ability of the woman to talk to their spouse about the events of their day but due to the exceptional ability of the man to block and ignore such communications.
School age children's noise level goes down a notch or two unless there is a gathering of more than….one. Any two, regardless of age or sex usually results in an argument of some type. Obvious practicing being a “grown up”. If nothing else there is nothing more prevalent, particularly in the social media, than people arguing with each other about some of the most inconsequential things as the fate of pop personalities let alone things of consequence and national and global importance.
It is only a bit later when the teenage years kick in that the noise turns into music which is never of the soothing or enjoyable type and predominantly masks whatever activity is actually going on in “private”. Privacy being an essential “need” of the teenager without any consideration of reciprocity. This coincides with the total absence of noise from children of any age group: school age, pre-teen, or teenage children, which in any environment means significant trouble and potential mischief that requires immediate investigation by the parent.
This is a difficult situation because to the noise weary parent, the silence is at first very welcomed and cherished until its duration exceeds…five minutes. More than five minutes generally sends an automatic vibrating chill down a parent’s spine that spurs them into immediate “investigation mode”. The usual result is the discovery that the child or children have gotten into something they are forbidden to get into or doing something they are forbidden to do, destroying something that doesn't belong to them, or damaging vital household infrastructure necessitating expensive professional unionized workers to remedy. Not a pretty or inexpensive sight.
Total silence is particularly troublesome when a group of teenagers gather, and gathering seems to be what they desire the most. A teenager goes into storms of physical and emotional seizures if ever left alone or if the means of constant communication with peers has been removed. The after effects of extended silence involving teenagers of the opposite sex, who suddenly disappear from sight with accompanying periods of “quiet” is most troubling because the potential forbidden activity could lead to the production of additional noise makers that in 9 short months could result in a second invading wave of noise makers into the home; setting back the offspring eradication master plan of the parents by multiple years. Anyone who has endured several years of parenthood and has a child approaching the pre-teen stage of development dreams of an empty nest and a return to the freedom and “peace and quiet” of their pre-children lives.
I totally believe that personal mental health requires a minimum level of consistent “peace and quiet” at least every few days. It doesn't take much but at least 10 to 15 minutes. Longer periods are even better but in our hustle bustle fast paced media invaded lifestyles such luxuries are difficult to purchase. Sometimes even the brief few minutes needed for a relaxing, meditative “in the zone” shave is impossible.
This past weekend I attempted to take an early afternoon nap. A siesta after lunch. I went upstairs and laid down. An hour later I arose frustrated, irritated and far more tense than prior to laying down. The phone range a total of 8 separate times (courtesy of no call list violating marketers and having teenagers living in the house). Emergency sirens sounded from police, ambulance and fire engines twice. There must have been a news worthy event several blocks away due to the continuous circling of two helicopters from local television stations in addition to a police helicopter. The door bell range once sending my dogs into a barrage of barking. All of this “turmoil and noise”, the opposite of “peace and quiet”, I heard over the drone of my CPAP machine I must wear when sleeping due to sleep apnea.
After supper a few days ago I took out one of my tobacco pipes that I had not touched in well over two years, since quitting smoking cigarettes and replacing that stinky habit with e-cig vaping. I filled the bowl with tobacco and went outside. It was a pleasant 45 degrees Fahrenheit, a slight breeze and a clear star filled sky. The air was crisp and the neighborhood uniquely calm and quiet. I could see a multitude of stars and the moon was shining brightly in the eastern night sky. I strolled around the yard, looking at the sky, puffing on my pipe and soaking in the “peace and quiet”. It was relaxing and refreshing.
Many of my nightly shaves provide a similar respite from the hustle-bustle of the day and set the stage for a good night's sleep. Occasionally I can get lost in the “zone” of the shave and the time melts into a period of wonderful peace and contentment. The aromas of the shaving soap/cream and aftershave and cologne contributes to the sensation of well-being and health and can transport me to a crisp wildflower filled meadow or a calm pine scented forest. My shave becomes an island of “peace and quiet” of not only my mind but also my spirit.
If your shaves do not offer you such an experience try to find a way to make it so. Demand from your family those brief minutes of privacy to focus on pampering yourself and getting lost in the shave. If your morning routine is far too hectic and rushed move your shave time to the evening. Your beard grows very little when you sleep and a pre-bedtime shave can maintain a clean shaven face just as good as an early morning one. If it doesn't a quick one pass shave in the morning should do the trick. You deserve all the “peace and quiet” you can find. Be good to yourself, plant your flag in the soil and make your personal Declaration of Independence with “Peace and Quiet” for all.
Good Shaves, Be Happy, Be Safe.