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Self Extension

In many martial arts, there is a sort of pervasive holism. The mind, body, and soul must be of a piece;  weapon and wielder must be one; it even helps to think of the bricks one is about to break as part of oneself. The studios I attended as a child all stressed the place of the student as a part of the school, and the school as a part of the community.  Each move imparts a greater understanding of the art, illuminating the self, which in turn assists in acquisition of the art. Self improvement is a duty of the student to the master, the school, and the community, whose qualities are reflected in the student. Implicitly, each thing dovetails into all things, becoming a unity.

A similar line of thought exists in behaviorist psychology and philosophy, which (to simplify) holds thought to be action, and the components useful and conducive to mindful action  (i.e. thought) to be an extension of the mind. As I understand it, Andy Clark claims this makes us all 'natural cyborgs', which is kind of cool.

On a less esoteric note, most people are affected in some way or other by their surroundings.  Weather, personal interactions, the food we eat, and the air we breath can all have an impact on our moods, feelings, and thoughts. So, too, the clothes we wear--particularly so for men, who are supposedly more or less likely to win physical competitions, like judo, depending on the colour of their garments.

All of which is a long way to get to something that happened to me today.

I trim my hair and my beard myself, because it's faster and cheaper than going to a barber. Since I started slowly going bald, with a creeping widow's peak, a widening circle near the top and back of my head, and thinning all over the crown, there's really been no sense in styling whatever's left up there. So, today I grabbed my clippers, slipped on a guard, and set to my obnoxiously straight, uncooperative hair which I always hated until it began to abandon me. After years of practice, I no longer have any problems trimming my hair, so the process went fairly smoothly, less dealing with a bug bite on the corner of my forehead.

With that taken care of, I had to sheer my beard.  Well, no, I didn't have to, nor did I intend to, but that's what happened.  Apparently, my son likes to play with my beard trimmer, and has figured out how to lower the setting from 7 down to 1, which, in beard terms, is a five o'clock shadow. A single motion across my California goatee quickly appraised me of this issue, but not before I had a nearly blank streak running down my chin. Not being a fan of off-centre reverse mohawks, and less so on my face, I had little choice but to cut it all off.

I had had that beard for almost six years. The room now feels several degrees colder, my face feels like someone's constantly petting it, and I no longer recognize myself in the mirror without covering everything from my nose on down. I feel odd, like I have lost something more than just a little hair. I know it will grow back, but not for a while. It will take me at least a month to be the same man again. In the meantime, I am beardless and slightly double-chinned.

*sigh*

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I think I'm going to try to revive my online writing habits, outside of Facebook.

And what have I been thinking or feeling in the interim, across the last couple years or so? Well, I'm glad you asked.

In part, this.