The average age of a bicyclist during RAGBRAI (the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) is somewhere between 40 and 50. It doesn’t take a mathematical or statistical savvy individual to deduce that there are a surprising amount of older individuals on RAGBRAI.
On a few of these expeditions, I remember noting how some of the older gentlement in my group were shaving everyday during this event. I wondered why they spent so much energy on this, as I got away with shaving once that week.
Over the next several years, the reason has dawned on me. If one were to start a stopwatch after a decent grooming, there is a certain level of ugliness that begins to develop as the stopwatch ticks away. The unfairness of aging is that the time to ugliness decreases and decreases as we age, while the energy to take care of such ugliness also decreases.
It seemed like just yesterday when about 3 or 4 weeks would pass before I began to notice some unsightly hairs in my ears I would have to buzz off. Now, it only takes 3 or 4 days. And it isn’t just a few unsightly hairs anymore, rather like coming up to the edge of a dense forest and seeing no way of entering without a machete.
Likewise, I’ve noticed the same with my eyebrows. I needed to pluck a few wild eyebrow hairs every 3 or 4 weeks. Now, 3 or 4 days. When one extrapolates this empirical data it once again does not take a genius to realize that this time is only going to shrink.
If I make it to 70, I’m sure that each morning I will look in the mirror with absolute bafflement, knowing full well I had groomed, plucked, and shaved every square millimeter of the face I was staring into yet seeing the impossible length of hair I could braid coming out of my ears, nose, and eyebrows.
I took those 3 to 4 weeks at a time for granted. Now, I’m not taking the 3 to 4 days I have for granted. I’m cherishing each and every day, because I know the work it takes to stay young will only grow.