If Paper Were Gold We’d Be Rich
When I was a kid we used to get the Reader’s Digest. Every month a new copy would come and the old copies would go on a shelf. I’m not sure why, but there were shelves and shelves of Reader’s Digests in my parents’ house. I swear we had to buy bookshelves just to house the Reader’s Digests.
I do not know why my parents kept every single one, but maybe they knew something I didn’t know. Perhaps there was a black market for rare, slightly-used, squarish magazines that I didn’t know about. Perhaps my parents were simply waiting for the value on this market to increase so they could send me to college. It’s about the only thing that makes sense.
Regardless of the reason, it was a treasure trove of goodness. Reader’s Digests were filled with jokes, humorous stories, and anecdotes of all types categorized by real life events, made up jokes, and even military guffaws. And each joke was cheesy enough to attract a small army of mice (that analogy belongs in a Reader’s Digest).
You Think I Look Bad? Check out the Other Guy?
But every so often there was a riddle or some other puzzle to solve. On one particular day, I remember opening up the Readers Digest to find a riddle about two small-town barbers.
It seems a gentleman was looking for a haircut as he traveled through a small town. In the town there were only two barbers. He had to chose one barber in order to be ready for a big event the next day.
On the one side of the street, there was the messy barber. There were magazines scattered about, pictures off kilter and lined with dust, an overflowing trash can, and a stack of aprons sitting on a chair. His appearance was disheveled: his shirt was wrinkled and untucked, his shoes were scuffed, and his hair was appalling.
Now on the other side of the street sat the immaculate barber. The place was spotless with a small little fountain out front and neatly laid out magazines. Fresh cut flowers sat in the window and the place smelled clean. What’s more, he was dressed in a nicely pressed shirt with a smart bow tie and his hair looked as clean and sharp as his shirt.
Which barber do you think this fine gentleman would go visit?
Yep, It’s that One.
If you’re like me you look at this and you say “The messy barber. I don’t know why, I just know the other one seems too obvious.” You would be right.
The fact of the matter is none of the style of the shop or the barber means a hill of beans in how someone cuts hair. It might make for a nicer experience, but a bad cut with a nice experience doesn’t seem like a great deal.
But think about this: a barber generally can’t cut his own hair. He goes to someone else for that. So the messy barber has messy hair because the immaculate barber doesn’t know how to cut. The immaculate barber on the other hand has immaculate hair because the messy barber knows his craft and knows it well.
Are You Waiting for the Right Barber?
I think a lot of us go through life looking for the barber across the street to cut our hair, except it’s not a barber and it’s not our hair. It’s everything. We want someone to do the things we don’t think we can do.
“I’m sad today. I need someone to cheer me up.”
“I’m lonely. I need someone to invite me out.”
“I’m struggling with my addiction to (alcohol, Facebook, cat videos, hiding from others). I need someone who will call me on it, but be there for me and help me through it.”
We all want that. Most of us won’t get it. We can’t look for someone in the shop across the street to solve our problems for us. We’re going to have to do it ourselves.
My Life Is Like a Movie!
I get the desire to have it go the other way. I’m a romantic. I have held to the idea that the right person would come along and would pick up the slack for all the deficiencies that I have. I never found the person that could; I only found heartache when we both discovered that life isn’t a fairy tale.
At the end of the day, you have to do it yourself. You have to look out for yourself to make sure you are doing what you need to do in order to have a happy life. You will have to cheer yourself up. You will have to find a way to make it through lonely times.
And you will have to find the people out there who will be your friends and fill in the gaps when it’s not coming together. If you are lucky you will find people who occasionally will step in for you. You will find the people who will be there for you to pick up the slack when life has hit you hard.
And if you don’t, you will simply become that much more resilient, because you will be able to withstand life’s trials on your own. That will make you stronger.
Don’t wait for the person across the street to fix your problems for you. It’s time to do what you can to fix them one at a time.