So finally i will break my silence. Actually, i probably would have written back earlier, but this has been my busiest week so far this year, academically and as it has turned out, spiritually as well.
I don't feel the need to go into my reasons all that much for why i shaved my beard, as we all know for the most part what they are. Some call it the temptation of maya, others call it the need to expand
horizons, to take a break from it all, try something different, see life from the other side of things, and there are probably other reasons as well. I honestly can't say that any reason most influenced me to shave, since the whole time i had been contemplating such a change i continually looked at my decision from different viewpoints, so that i could figure out what my reasoning was. Having done it, i still don't know what in the end made me do it, other than perhaps being so sick of worrying about it that i wanted to just get it over with and see what it was like. I hadn't expected to check my email one day and see myself broadcast all around the internet but looking back, i really appreciate the feedback all of you have given not only me, but my father as well. The thing holding me back the most from shaving was in thinking about the look on my father's face when i first walked up to him clean shaven, and having to see the look of pain on his face. I love my father dearly and had no
desire to harm him, but i still wanted to go out and 'see things for myself' if only once or twice, so that for any decisions i made in the future i wouldn't wonder "if only i had tried that, things would have
been different." Just to give you an idea of the state things are at, Gurbachan Singh called me the other night out of the blue wanting to know how i was doing, and to offer me some advice of his own. He told me that "you don't have to stick your hand in a pile of shit in order to be able smell it." My response to him at the time should have been "sometimes you have to get close enough to it to realize that it is shit."
Heres where things are at with me: I'm at the point of trying to make a decision that will affect me not only for the rest of my life, but will affect the lives of my kids, and possibly other people's lives as well. I don't want to make a hasty decision, but i don't want to make an uninformed decision. I have seen what it is like to live as a sikh not only in India but in America and particularly my school as well (which in all honesty has had an affect on my decision to shave). Last semester i did not shave, and i saw and felt what it was like, and how the people around me acted. This semester i got to see life from the other perspective, with a clean shaven face, and i noted the difference in the ways people treated and acted around me. I have yet to make any final decisions, but i have noticed a few
preliminary things. The first is that no matter what people gave me respect, but last semester their respect sometimes bordered on awe(often when they were drunk or high, but there were other times as well), at my commitment to my religion. This semester, i got comments like "Oh it looks so cute!" or "Yeah man, you look smooth." In all honesty i think i look better clean shaven, but this is what my point is: this semester people related to me on a different level because they saw the changes i was going through. They didn't really understand what i was going through, probably thinking that the burly kid down the hall finally decided to wise up. Thus the superficial comments, as well as the increased attention from different girls at school. Last semester when i had a full beard, i got more looks as people were thinking "whats going on with this kid?". I did feel like more of an outsider, for i looked different and didn't party(or relieve stress if you will) in the same way everyone else did. I still made plenty of friends and hung out with girls, but there was always a sense as if people didn't really understand what i was about. I still have not come to any final decision yet, but i will close with a
thought about a conversation i had with a friend a few weeks ago: My friend was trying to decide whether or not to pledge to a fraternity, and his meeting was in a few hours. He came into my room and we started talking. He had wanted to pledge with his best friend , but at the last moment his friend backed out. I went through his reasoning about joining the frat (basically, he got a lot of attention from some sorority girls at a party the week before), and about his distress about pledging without his best friend even though the fraternity brothers wanted him to plegde this semester. Near the end i broke it down to him. I said "How long have you known your best friend?" "Ten years," he replied. "And how long have you know these frat kids?" "About a week," he answered.
Walking home the other day i thought of this, for in some ways i have felt pressure to shave and fit in more, particularly from friends at school. But i have only known these people for a couple of months,
whereas i have known my parents and the sikh lifestyle(and its various facets) for my whole lifetime. I have not yet made any decisions, but i hope you have been able to glimpse a little of what is going on in my head.