I took one of those personality tests once. You know, answer a bunch of questions and it magically distills out your entire personality, all 100 billion neurons of it, into four simple letters or numbers or colors or chocolate covered jujubees. And with this wonderful metric, you can finally know what exactly is wrong with you, or who your ideal spouse is, or what kind of job you should have.
I’ve forgotten much of what that particular test revealed about me, except for two simple things: First, it said, “I have an attraction to the profane”. While I’m not sure what exactly that means, I suspect it has something to do with my love of this internet thing. But I’ll not dwell on that since it’s an aspect of my life that we would probably all prefer I kept private. 😉
The test also said I see the world as having a cosmic balance, that I believe there is an essential yin and yang to things. This personality test may not have profiled me perfectly but in this regard it was bang on. No matter where I’m at in life, I find I always look at what’s on the other side of the metaphorical fence. If I’m happy and everything is going well, that joy is tempered by a leeriness of what misfortune may lie ahead. Or, if the world seems to be collapsing, I take refuge in the knowledge that somewhere in the future, “this too shall pass”.
I found myself contemplating this desire for balance in my life as I walking back home after having received a great haircut. This was in a local shop that is a real, honest-to-god barbershop. As soon as you walk in the door they offer you a beer (or, today, a Bloody Mary) to sip on while you wait for an open chair. The shop is filled with chatter and the usual good-humored ribbing that guys enjoy, and the haircut is a pleasant, half-hour affair that features an unrivaled attention to detail. Hair is not just cut, it is trimmed and brought into balance. If needed, even nose hair and eyebrows are swiftly and calmly shorn. And the experience is capped off with a generous swab of warm shaving lather and a few swipes of a straight razor to clean the neck and give a precision line to the hairline and sideburns. And, on some occasions, a splash of Bombay Rum to prevent chafing on one’s neck. The smell is sublime and will last for a good hour after you’ve left the shop. It is, in brief, an exceptional experience. All for the barely noticeable price of sixteen bucks.
The reason I elaborate on this is that it represents a perfect example of cosmic balance. The rate at which my hair is thinning appears to be inversely proportional to the quality of barbers and barbershops I’ve found. The less actual need for a haircut I have, the more profound the experience. I actually found myself thinking that by the time I’m completely bald, these haircuts may well be a near-orgasmic experiences. I can barely wait!