The Oldest Ritual

Not long ago I decided to modify my shaving routine by switching to a straight razor. There isn’t a logical reason for this, unless it might be using slightly less electricity in a day. Saving money was not my motivation for this change, though, so I wondered for a while why I should do this.

I have long been fascinated with bladed tools and weapons. The razor, with its folding hinged body, was no exception. The thought of having a tool that was precisely razor sharp was very appealing. When I handled them, their weight balanced so finely, they just felt like instruments with purpose. They reminded me of heavy fountain pens, just tooled for a different purpose.

I only recently had my first proper straight-razor shave given to me by a barber. It was relaxing, but also a bit less impressive than I expected. I thought at the time that I could probably do better on my own. And with the electric razor and the disposable plastic razors I had been using to finish with, the chore was acceptable. Why change a good thing?

Going back to a tool that has been successfully replaced? Would I also stop driving in favor of a bike, or maybe a horse? Well, I guess it would depend on the distances involved, but I’ll consider that option later. The shaving switch is more about appreciating the artistry and history of the tools involved. I don’t want to go back to sharpened clam shells, but holding the straight razor feels like I am closer with the unending fraternity of stubble. I can picture my heroes from the past holding a razor quite similar to mine. I also know that tossing hundreds of plastic razors into the environmental pit of despair is no good.

Now I will stand in front of a mirror and brandish a respectable and reusable instrument to take part in the ancient chore. It is riskier, and requires a steady hand. I like the idea that there is more skill involved. Maybe I will grow tired of it after a time, but I think as long as I get to become more thoughtful about a mundane task, I will be pleased to keep it going.

Published by blytheobservations

I’m an educator for many years in the great Midwest. I try to focus on being a decent human. My three kids are hopefully learning good things from me. Perfectly boiling an egg has been added to the resume. We take pleasure in small victories. I’m probably driving around right now looking for firewood.

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