Wednesday I woke up with butterflies in my stomach, the nervous not excited kind. Wednesday was going to be the day I started rocking the handle bars for a week. I was overcome with major anxiety, “what will people think of me?” “how can I go out in public?” “I am going to look so stupid!” “I could just skip this one and know one would notice.”
Lots and lots of voices, doing their best to talk me out of what was to come from my date with the razor. I kept reminding myself that these challenges that I am scared of are some of the most important ones; these are the ones that take me out of my comfort zone, and trust me I am out of my comfort zone.
As I sit here and type this I am sitting on my porch, in the sun, spoiled, I know. The way the sun hits, it makes a reflection on my lap top screen so I can see my handle bars glaring right back at me. My hair is un-kept, and I have a huge pimple right in the middle of my chin that is like a big blinking light screaming out for everyone to stop and stare at my facial hair.
I believe I am a good looking guy, and as such I have enjoyed the perks that have come with it. I have built a huge piece of my self esteem on my physical appearence: 6feet 3inches tall, I weigh 223lbs, I have a muscular build, a great tan, I am in excellent shape and, I think, an overall physcially attractive guy. I have had many women go so far as to tell me, “I am hot.” I am not sharing this with you to brag, but rather it is important background because for me this challenge is about, what happens if I take that away? What happens if I am not good looking, if I can’t look at myself in the mirror because what I see staring back at me freaks me out? Then what? Me growing handle bars may not seem like a big deal to many, some people wear the look very well, but for me, for someone who has always been praised on his looks to take that away, IT IS SCARY!!!
My 8am appointment and I always walk for her pre session warm up. As we were walking I was hanging my head lower and lower, trying to avoid eye contact with any person who came across us. Anyone who looked at me, I just knew, that they were thinking, “what a freak,” or, “what the hell was he thinking.” I saw people smile and laugh and knew I HAD to be the subject of their laughter.
We were about four blocks into our warm up, I was on round 12 of berating myself in my head, “Stupid, idiot, you look like a joke, etc…”, when suddenly I stopped dead in my tracks – I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. Not more than 15 feet in front of me, ( I would have seen her sooner had I not been hanging my head in shame of myself), was a lady who I will never forget. This lady was out walking her dog. She was wearing a blue t-shirt, white pants and a beret style hat. She walked with a severe limp, her right arm was missing from the elbow up, and her face was horribly disfigured, like she had been severely burned or mauled or something worse.
I stood there for a second staring at this lady and have never felt more ashamed of myself. Here I am beating myself up over a stupid facial hair style that I am wearing by choice! I can shave it whenever I want, I only have to wear it for a week, this lady, she looks this way for life! I hung my head again, not because of my new look, but because I had just been taught an amazing life lesson and it knocked the wind out of me.
My Dad used to always tell me, “You never have to look very far to see someone who is much worse off than you are.” We all think, from time to time, that whatever we are facing in life is so horrible, so challenging, that it is the end of the world as we know it. If we were to just open our eyes a little wider during those tough times, we would not have to look very hard to see someone who has it much tougher than we do.
What if, I was that physically disfigured and handicapped? Would I smile as much as I do? Would I laugh? Would I be able to offer up positive insights and words of encouragement to an international audience that I have never even met? Would I even have the courage to go on living? Wow, now those are some questions? And a lot tougher ones to answer than the, “I wonder what everyone is going to think” questions I was stressing myself out over earlier that morning.
Remember, you never have to look very far to see someone whose plight, whose struggles, are greater than yours. I hope I run into that women again. I would like to buy her lunch, and tell her thank you for changing my life.
Enjoy the pics,