I got to talk to my barber today; it was only him and I and so (I think) Barber was a little more forthcoming with his thoughts.
I started out by asking him how he was doing, to which he jovially and optimistically responded that he woke up this morning with a smile on his face and his mind working, and that’s all for which he could ask. He’s always been that way. It is an endearing affect shared by few, one that I feel when interacting with Habitating Family Friend, one that makes life feel warm (even when ice cream is involved). Then, I asked if he will take any time off in October, like he did last year when he went back “home” to Italy for a couple of weeks. He responded by telling me what I already knew, things that we had already talked about and – I guess – is the stock answer he gives to all his clients (including me in the past): in the old town in which he grew up, in which his family lived until coming to Canada, there was no one. His family in that town had either passed away or moved, so he had nothing there to which he was drawn.
Then, he shared new stuff. He started talking about his wife, who had passed away suddenly a few years ago. Barber, who is in his seventies, spoke about finding purpose in her, in her love. Barber talked about going out with couples and friends just not being the same after she left; how if he found someone else, it would feel like he was cheating on his wife; about his love with her – intertwined – and that she was a part of him forever. It was at this point that I was two seconds away from crying; the only thing that stopped me, the single action that brought me back, was that Barber was smiling. Barber was smiling because while this might appear to be self-imposed loneliness to some, while this might appear to be not finding value in yourself, while this might appear to be flawed, solely finding purpose in another, it is not. Barber was smiling because he was not sad about sharing those years, because it reflected his purpose, which was not his wife. Barber’s purpose was revealed in his wife, it was revealed in his intertwined-ness with her, it was revealed in their love. He was smiling, imperfectly vivid, about his purpose: love.
In keeping with that and yesterday’s post, my purpose is ever-more clear: helping others, being that support for others, finding value in others. This does not mean engaging in my purpose in a flawed way, with the blackness driving me into martyrdom, into mental illness, into it screaming in my ear, into vulnerability to its toxic charms. This means ensuring I am strong enough, wise enough, loving enough, courageous enough, respectful enough to best live my purpose.
This purpose might be imperfect, but it certainly is not flawed. It might make me tired, but it does not exhaust me. When flawed, I have tears in my eyes and blackened poison in my veins. When imperfect, I have a smile on my face. When imperfect, I find value in others, in helping others. When imperfect, I am able to best live my purpose. How does this translate into life? I would never think about doing a 70.3 Ironman Triathlon; when imperfect, I would do it to support a friend. I would never think about doing a 10K on three days notice, just having done a long, draining run today; when imperfect, I would do it to support the good and not-so-publicized cause of Alzheimer’s. I would never think about taking on two jobs at once, working 30 days out of 29; when imperfect, I do it to support my Mom. I would never have thought I could forgive infidelity, something I was sure would rip me apart, stripping me of every trustful part of me; when imperfect, we recovery, we take it one day at a time, we focus on love. How does being imperfect and best living my purpose translate into life? When imperfect, I am vivid.
Barber is going to play the accordion at a local retirement residence tomorrow, finding purpose in providing music and happiness to those less fortunate. This Intentional Act of Niceness will not give him pause, will not make him think, because it is him, it is the truest version of him to be loving and demonstrate care. Even after his wife, he continues to find purpose and imperfect vividness in love.
If I find purpose in love, in helping others, in (potentially) being the new dawn/Don of Tz’u, I know that cannot be a bad thing (and not only because barbers are those Fool-like Shakespearean characters that never lie, that enter onto the stage to reveal the truth, the meanings behind it all). I know that because engaging in that purpose, imperfect as it is, is about being vivid.
Now, I just need to figure out how to best be vivid, so that I can find truthful purpose in love.