Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Enjoy the warthog

Monday after work I went to my local barbershop for a haircut. The owner, a bald-headed man in his sixties, motioned for me to sit in the center chair. I was happy to have the owner cut my hair. He's not the best barber in the shop but his haircuts are adequate and reliable. He has four assistants: two young Hispanic guys, a middle-aged Hispanic guy, and an obese blonde woman. The best barber, a true artist with a razor cut, is one of the young Hispanic guys. Unfortunately, the worst barber is the other young Hispanic guy, and I can't keep track of which is which. The middle-aged Hispanic guy does a good job but his scissors style is too jumpy for my peace of mind, and the blonde gives a mediocre haircut accompanied by non-stop chatter. All in all, the owner is the safest bet.

I had slogged through a long day at work and the cares of the world were weighing on me. As I stared at the mirror on the wall, my reflection stared back with dull eyes. I watched the owner buzz and clip my bushy hair into submission. When the owner finished, I paid the bill and added a two dollar tip. We parted on a cheerful note.

It was only later at the grocery store when I was flipping through a little book of daily quotations that I came to a disturbing realization. Never once during my haircut did I think to look at the most interesting sight in the barbershop: the mounted head of a warthog on the back wall. It is a fine warthog with a peaceful expression, the mark of a clear conscience. It was a warthog that must have enjoyed a reputation for probity in his warthog community. I had been so preoccupied and mind-deadened from work that I had forgotten to look at this excellent warthog.

Feeling uneasy, I consulted the chapter on contentment. Several quotations spoke to my condition.

"Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are." ~ Chinese Proverb

"What is important in life is life, and not the result of life." ~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1749 - 1832)

"One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important." ~ Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970)

To these, I add my own: "Take time to stop and enjoy the warthog."