Monday, July 14, 2008


The following is an excerpt from the book "All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten", by Robert Fulghum. I had typed this up and put it in one of my notebooks back in high school, and found it recently when going through some of my old things. It's a good little read--I hope you enjoy it!...I also hope you realize how important you are to the people in your life and how your example can be a shining light when you don't even know someone's looking!

Hair grows at the rate of about half an inch a month. I don't know where he got his facts, but Mr. Washington came up with that one when we were comparing barbers. That means that about eight feet of hair had been cut of my head and face in the last sixteen years by my barber.
I hadn't thought much about it until I called to make my usual appointment and found out that my barber had left to go into building maintenance. What?? How could he do this? My barber. It felt like a death in the family. There was so much more to our relationship than sartorial statistics.
We started out as categories to each other: "barber" and "customer." Then we became "redneck ignorant barber" and "pinko egghead minister." Once a month we reviewed the world and our lives and explored our positions. We sparred over civil rights and Vietnam and a lot of elections. We became mirrors, confidants, confessors, therapists, and companions in an odd sort of way. We went through being thirty years and then forty. We discussed and argued and joked, but always with a certain thoughtful deference. After all, I was his customer. And he was standing there with a razor in his hand.
I found out that his dad was a country policeman, that he grew up poor in a tiny town and had prejudices about Indians. He found out that I had the same small town roots and grew up with prejudices about Blacks. Our kids were the same ages, and we suffered through the same stages of parenthood together. We shared wife stories and children stories and car troubles and lawn problems. I found out he gave his day off to giving free haircuts to old men in nursing homes. He found out a few good things about me too, I suppose.
I never saw him outside the barber shop, never met his wife or children, never sat in his home, or ate a meal with him. Yet he became a terribly important fixture in my life. Perhaps a lot more important than if we had been next-door neighbors. The quality of our relationship was partly covered by a peculiar distance. There's a real sense of loss in his leaving. I feel like not having my hair cut anymore, though the
thought of eight feet of hair seems strange.
Without realizing it, we fill important places in each others' lives. It's that way with a minister and a congregation. Or with the guy at the corner grocery, the mechanic at the local garage, the family doctor, teachers, neighbors, co-workers. Good people, who are always "there," who can be relied upon in small, important ways. People who teach us, bless us, encourage us, support us, uplift us in the dailiness of life. We never tell them. I don't know why, but we don't.
And, of course, we fill that role ourselves. There are those who depend on us, watch us, learn from us, take from us. And we may never know. Don't sell yourself short. You may never have proof of your importance, but you are more important than you think.

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