Some folks are embarrassed to buy a minivan. I know some of my friends keep kicking against the pricks, adamant that they will never drive one. It makes them look old, they say. I never had such a conviction. In fact, I bought my first minivan when I was single and only twenty years old. It was a steal at $400. I had read that cops are far less likely to ticket a speeding minivan than a sports car. Not that I ever speed, of course! But maybe someday I’d need to drive a hit-and-run victim to the hospital, or do some other necessary thing that required a valid moral argument for speeding. Like being late for church.
But I’m not immune to feeling old. The other day Janice was giving me a hair cut and she tried to shove the clippers into my ears. It tickled and made me sneeze involuntarily. “What on earth are you doing?” I learned it’s a bad thing to sneeze when Janice has a clippers next to my head.
“Trying to get those ear hairs,” She said.
“That’s impossible. I don’t have ear hair. Not enough to worry about.”
She shrugged her shoulders and reached for a tweezers.
I became very adamant. “No. No. No. Just stuff the hair back in there or something. You’re not yanking my ear drums out with that thing.” Janice grew up on a dairy farm and sometimes I think she views me as a sick cow the way she pushes and prods and yells at me to stop moaning around the kitchen. Why, it wouldn’t surprise me if she tried to trim my ear hair with a weed eater – if it’s fast and gets the job done she’s all for it! Of course, on their farm the weed-eaters never started so she’d probably use an electric bread knife. Then when she’s done trimming my ear hair, she’d have a strong desire to pierce my ear and stick a yellow tag in it.
“Fine. You take care of your own ear hair.”
I spent the next few months denying I had any. Old people have hair creeping out of their ears. Not young, dashing men such as myself.
Then one day I was looking at the mirror, flexing my nostrils and snorting. I watched all my nose hairs perform a synchronized dance with my lungs. It looked like the furry back of a buffalo rippling in the savannah wind. I sighed. It was time for a nose hair trimmer. I had never needed one before but I certainly do now. Granted, when you have a mustache like I do, you can disguise nose hairs pretty well. They just merge with the other traffic that’s going down your face. But, like a combover, life brings you to a point when you just have to admit it’s not a feasible option anymore. I sighed. I need a nose hair trimmer.
Janice eagerly bought me one. Suspiciously enough, the package also said it could trim ear hair. Minivans don’t bother me. Having hair grow everywhere it shouldn’t and not where it should bothers me much more. In your twenties you think you’ll never get old. In your thirties you realize you’re sitting on top of the Sliding Board of Time and your children are giving you a shove. You realize you’re not in control of your life anymore and you start doing ridiculous things to prove you are – kind of like when a child is sliding down a sliding board and halfway down realizes he’s going to fast. They try to get off the ride and just end up hurting themselves.
The only surefire way to completely stop aging is to keel over and die. We’re on a timeline and in front of you are a million choices that can take your path and make it end up somewhere else. You’re likely going to follow the path of least resistance. What choices are you making today that will take you somewhere meaningful tomorrow?
Halfway through my twenties I realized I was chasing happiness. And by chasing happiness, I was avoiding hard things that brought fulfillment. Instead of pursuing the happiness, pursue fulfillment.
In my mind, there is no more fulfilling thing that excelling in the work that your Creator has designed you to do. Like Eric Liddell said, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run I feel his pleasure.”
I think God’s map of our lives has higher mountain tops than we can even imagine but since they’re surrounded by dark valleys which we try very hard to avoid, we never reach the heights of grandeur that God wants us to experience.
Here’s two quotes to leave you inspired while I go trim my ear hair…