The ends of your fingertips and toes is about how far you can reach out and physically change things. It’s true, beyond your true bodily reach things get changed by idea and persuasion. Granted, you can extend your reach through technology like guns and knives, or threats and extortion, but those are often promises or threats of projected physical reach.
I’m talking about how you influence those around you even though folks aren’t close enough for you to reach out and ring their necks. It’s the encounter with the faceless that I speak of; those times when you’re in the immediate company of people who get/have to make snap decisions about who and what you are because you’re just as faceless to them. By your appearance, attitude and action folks will make snap decisions about you, your intention and your ability.
Dirty secret time:
I have been able to grow a respectable beard and mustache since I was 18. I’ve got Viking blood and a wonderful dirty copper beard (now striped with silver). As a young man I trimmed it into a fu manchu because it looked bad ass. Yes, was driving a semi and wanted people not to mess with me…honestly. In fact it’s fair to say I wanted them to take a step back and not bother me. I allowed my ‘stache to influence beyond my reach and encourage people to move over and get out of the way. In essence I wanted to scare people back. I also rode a Honda XL500S that I had piped and put twenty-three rings into, and if you know what I’m talking about, you know that’s just about as close to a straight pipe as you can get. If I was trying to be stealthy on return to my parent’s house I would shut down about 1/4 mile away and try to coast it all the way home.
I know a thing or two about loud pipes. I know they send a clear message. I know that effectively shouting down all other traffic is a good time. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about mustaches. I”m talking about does the inside control the outside or does the outside define the inside?
My mother used to say, “You’re too mean and orn’rey to get married” so she taught my brothers and I to cook and wash and wax. Here’s a bit you wouldn’t guess: I used to bake and decorate birthday cakes for the young ladies I wanted to impress. I can make pretty good biscuits and cookies too. One night a little over 25 years I was cooking a lovely young lady dinner. I had as much mustache as the university’s dress code would allow. My hair was too long for the code and I have been to the Dean of Students because I punched in a couple of ear rings for a video shoot I was “acting” in. (Turns out that at a straight laced university with a film department they were woefully short on shady characters). To the point, during dinner this young lady informed me that she “would never, ever kiss a man with a mustache”.
Before dessert I excused myself went to the bathroom, turned on the fan for cover and took out my electric razor and removed my ‘stache. Suffice it to say that 25 years and 4 children later it was a pretty slick move. When I shaved off the mustache there was no trepidation. I was not emasculating myself or surrendering my freewill or somehow compromising my ethics. I wanted a kiss this hot chick and shaving did the trick. The lip caterpillar has been on and off ever since. I grow it every year before I start training other riders because there’s this idea that “If you don’t have facial hair you can’t ride.” I turn it to my own purposes…plus I like it. Kids in my classes at school are confused because I shave it off sometime in December and they ask, “Shouldn’t you grow it in winter and shave it off in summer?” Losing it makes me look 10 years younger.
But I do it because I want to.
Here’s the point: If you dress, act and ride like a badass, if you’re pushing to influence folks outside your real, human reach with how you look, there’s a danger that you’ll also change on the inside. It’s called Cognitive Dissonance, the idea that you can’t hold contrary beliefs in your mind. You can’t simultaneously be for something and against it. Your brain will pick one or the other and cast off the remainder. You’ll see this phenomena clearly in riders. Eventually the grimy angry biker becomes what he advertises. That guy with that day-glo bike? He becomes that patronizing, annoying know it all who’s out to save you regardless of your need or desire to be saved. Remember the guy hung up on the physics and minutiae of riding? Yup, they won’t enjoy riding anymore they only enjoy arguing about it–they stop being a rider and become a physics major nobody wants to deal with.
It’s OK to send a message beyond your fingertips and toes–the real question is, “What if you become what you appear to be?” You go where you look and you can end up becoming what you are.
Be careful, be safe.