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new perspective


Well-Known Member
So, my life has been going through some pretty big changes lately. It has meant a new job, new area, lots of new people, and a totally different (right now I'm thinking better) perspective...

I've never been myopic; it's just not in my nature, I'm convinced. However, I have at times been caught up in materialistic things... I think that's something that those of us in the US have a hard time with as a rule (of which of course there are exceptions). Previously, I really felt compelled to have a new car all the time, big house, all the coolest gadgets. However, recently, I've done something that's been both refreshing and quite surprising. I've been living in an apartment away from home for several days a week until we can get my family moved to our new town full time (being away from them is depressing to say the least, but that's another topic). This apartment is a 850 sq feet single bedroom as opposed to my 4000 sq ft house back "home". When my wife and kids come to the new apartment, it's like camping out. The kids have a blowup, we (my wife and I) snuggle on our "small" queen size bed. Every time we get together there or at our old house, it's always great... I never feel crowded or wanting for anything in that small place. However, my house seems excessive.

It seems, I don't need the big house. Instead, I find myself just craving a cozy house (in the new town) with a great outdoor space for watching/playing with the kids. You see, my kids are getting to the age where all we want to do is ride bikes, skate, play football (European style at the moment ;) ) and cook out. I've not lost interest in our indulgent little hobby, but I don't spend nearly as much time as I used to talking about it... I spend a lot more time enjoying the hobby, and spending time with the family when I have the opportunity. I don't perpetually monitor all the boards, and I don't obsess about any of it.

How does this relate to I'm not sure, but here's something that I've noticed. I'm happier in general. I don't get irritated by reading moronic statements made about honing. I don't hone razors for practice or fun... I do what needs to be done, I participate in research for advancement of my understanding, and I spend roughly 3 hours a week reading about razors where I used to spend that much time in a day.

I'm not so sure this is a natural progression, but it's my progression. I enjoy my shaves just as much. I really enjoy the software (probably the most of all the kit to be honest), and I use the stones when needed. In 10-15 minutes, I can hone a dull razor to one that provides a delightful shave. That's what I started this process for. That's it! Yes, I fell into the AD traps, but mostly because of the idea that many act as if you have to have experienced everything to have a valid opinion. I bought into it... And, while yes the more experience you have the better your anecdotal evidence is, guess what - anecdotal evidence is overwhelmingly rejected as having no value at all in the scientific community. Whatever.

So... my new perspective is that it's much preferred to own a few things and know how to use them intimately. A wealth of wide ranging experience most likely means a lack of real mastery of any one thing in particular. Fast and repeatable (or hone by numbers) is only preferred if your honing professionally. I'd much prefer to spend a few minutes more with one stone that cost me $70 US or one of my slightly more expensive ones :p ) than to buy $350 US worth of stones in progression to save a couple minutes. If it's not 100% there the first time through, I'll have it finished within 2 or 3 minutes... It really does all come down to the hands at the stone instead of the progression or individual stone. But most importantly, my wife and kids bring me so much more enjoyment than this little hobby that it's not going to be allowed to keep me from one minute of time reading a book, playing ball, or anything else. No more navel gazing here... no more hoarding... smaller house in new town... :thumbup:
This sounds just wonderful, my friend!
Isn't that what it's all about? When it just feels right, whenn you KNOW it's right, and then all of a sudden you calm down .....

You are a rich man - despite your small apartment!
This is a really great write up, thanks for sharing such personal thoughts and for your trust, Paul.

Well - this is what you call a real life, doesn't it? Proportions and balance are really vital.

Thanks very much again.

best regards,
Wise words indeed, my friend.
Never lose sight of what's really important.

Thank you Paul, for sharing your well thought out introspection. Change brings about reflection and vice versa. Perspective and priorities sometimes get lost, but when we find them again we feel renewed and more centered. Life goes by way too fast and it sounds like you will enjoy what's really important for you. Good luck and again, thanks for sharing.

I think you are absolutely correct. Experience has taught me that with time and practice one can achieve far more with fewer tools than one might think in the onset of the process. This is true for almost any field of expertise, but especially true in the arts. The Talmudic scholars have said long ago that he who has many possessions has many worries. I dont think that it is meant to be taken literally to the point of self denial - but certainly, many of us could use far less than we own to create much more happiness than we dream possible.

Spend every available moment with your children - they grow up much too quickly and then they are gone... :)
I can only hope to become as wise as you. I have the hording mentality in regards to everything, but I am always happiest with a tent, rod and reel.
Thanks, Paul - my feelings exactly. Whilst on the topic of sharing...

I started straight shaving because I kept getting ingrown hairs (without going into any details, I still have scars from them - yes, they were that bad). My best man introduced me to DE shaving. Unbeknownst to me, he had been shaving with cut-throat razors forever. He just did not feel that evangelising them made any sense. He is right, I think.

Any road, I found the idea of shaving with a cut-throat appealing (I liked the design, the aspect of traditionalism, and of course the fact that I grew up near Solingen). Being a researcher, I started digging for information on the internet. I spent several weeks lurking the two major forums before I bought my first razors. Eventually, I joined both forums, and became actively involved in one.

What had irked be from the beginning was the almost complete lack of independent, current, and relevant information for beginners in any aspect of cut-throat shaving, be it razors, hones, or strops. The rest is history, and I still believe that SRP's Wiki has become a good - albeit far from perfect - source of information. But I digress. Spending time with Americans (cf Paul's remarks above), I was soon led to believe that diversity is a goal in and by itself. I was lucky inasmuch as all my acquisitions came from reputable old-school (ie "pre str8 hype") types. I did spend a considerable amount of money, true, but I got a real value in return.

About a year ago - approx 2 years after I had become actively involved in the scene - I started getting annoyed. Admittedly, I am easily annoyed, and prone to relentlessly truthful comments. But I could not initially identify the source of this annoyance. It took me a while to figure it out, and the fact that I was forced to change jobs last Fall played a pivotal role in that. I had three months all to myself (paid leave). While that may sound exciting at first, I can assure you that balancing vita activa and vita contemplativa when every day starts with the problem of finding something to do in the absence of a real task quickly becomes a horrible bore. Luckily for me, Bart and his friend Chris came along, and spent a couple of days in Berlin with us. It changed my view on cut-throat razors as a hobby entirely.

While previously, I thought it perfectly natural to hoard as many razors and hones as possible to find the ones that were perfect, Bart encouraged me to get rid of everything I did not immediately need or did not consider items I would keep for a long time. Well, I still have 5 Norton hones, but the Escher and three other hones had to go, as had quite a few razors (including a Dovo Bergischer Löwe and several 5/8 razors I found too small). Strops, too. Creams and soaps I still like to buy and sell on, but only because they can be radically different, and I am still looking for the perfect combination of cheap and powerful (I might have come very close with St James, though).

Long story short, it pays to spend less. Concentrating on a few items, learning to master them, then enjoying their full potential is what this hobby should be about in my personal opinion. A few simple things that work well are far more interesting than one might believe...
Thanks for the posts, everyone. Sometimes I feel compelled to write something, start to ramble, and end up just hoping it doesn't come across as incoherent drivel :blush:

Robin, you are spot on. Prior to my new job and subsequent move, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. While I was still working, it was less than I'd like while still providing me with plenty enough discretionary income. It wasn't a problem, but trying to "find something to do in absence of a real task" is definitely a bore. Similarly, I found myself annoyed in general without knowing why, but now it's very very clear (without going into specifics...).

Regarding research: it's still far from being independent, but there's not any better place than SRP's wiki that I've found. The problem with research in this hobby is very similar to all aspects of research in the "real world". Too often it's done by parties with a motive of financial gain. Unfortunately, that's not the only problem with the research. There are many who believe that disagreement is a bad thing, and only those who agree or keep silent are fit to participate. "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" is a great rule for a kindergarten classroom, but it's not how adults function or how scientists or those in academia operate either. That's not to say that it's good to be a jerk, but that does mean that saying there is a flaw in one's argument isn't a bad thing. Personally, I'd much prefer to discuss things with people who would challenge me (based on arguments) and welcome me to challenge them. It's not "ungentlemanly" (what most call a gentleman is a great example of a misnomer if you guys are ever challenged to find one) to disagree or stay silent. In fact, to me it's disrespectful to expect people not to challenge my thinking or accept being challenged. Besides that, I can't help but think about the fact that I disagree the most (and most passionately) with those that I'm closest to and love the most (think spouse and close friends).

That's one of the reasons I'm still hanging around this site, to be perfectly honest. Disagreement is welcomed here as long as we all behave ourselves like reasoned adults, and it gives me the opportunity to participate in research that I'm interested in. I have always loved helping new guys get started in straights (I wish I had me as a mentor when I started, but that's another thread), and I have some opportunity to help out in that regard as well...