God Granted This Wish to All Human Beings

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Hair grows at the rate of about half an inch a month. I dont know where he got his facts, but Mr. Washington came up with that one when we were comparing barbers. That means that about eight feet of hair had been cut off my head and face in the last sixteen years by my barber.

I hadnt thought much about it until I called to make my usual appointment and found that my barber had left to go into building maintenance. What? How could he do this? My barber. It felt like a death in the family. There was so much more to our relationship than sartorial statistics.

We started out as categories to each other: barber and customer. Then we become redneck ignorant barber and pinko egghead minister. Once a month we reviewed the world and our lives and explored our positions. We sparred over civil rights and Vietnam and a lot of elections. We became mirrors, confidants, confessors, therapists, and companions in an odd sort of way. We went through being thirty years old and then forty. We discussed and argued and joked, but always with a certain thoughtful deference. After all, I was his customer. And he was standing there with a razor in his hand.

I found out that his dad was a country policeman, that he grew up poor in a tiny town and had prejudices about Indians. He found out that I had the same small-town roots and grew up with prejudices about Blacks. Our kids were the same ages, and we suffered through the same stages of parenthood together. We shared wife stories and children stories and car troubles and lawn problems. I found out he gave his day off to giving free haircuts to old men in nursing homes. He found out a few good things about me too, I suppose.

I never saw him outside of the barber shop, never met his wife or children, never sat in his home or ate a meal with him. Yet he became a terribly important fixture in my life. Perhaps a lot more important than if we had been next-door neighbors. The quality of our relationship was partly created by a peculiar distance. Theres a real sense of loss in his leaving. I feel like not having my hair cut anymore, though eight feet of hair might seem strange.

Without realizing it, we fill important places in each others lives. Its that way with a minister and congregation. Or with the guy at the corner grocery, the mechanic at the local garage, the family doctor, teachers, neighbors, co-workers. Good people, who are always there, who can be relied upon in small, important ways. People who teach us, bless us, encourage us, support us, uplift us in the dailiness of life. We never tell them. I dont know why, but we dont.

And, of course, we fill that role ourselves. There are those who depend on us, watch us, learn from us, take from us. And we never know. Dont sell yourself short. You may never have proof of your importance, but you are more important than you think.

It reminds me of an old Sufi story of a good man who was granted one wish by God. The man said he would like to go about doing good without knowing about it. God granted his wish. And then God decided that it was such a good idea, he would grant that wish to all human beings. And so it has been to this day.

------Robert Fulghum

-- Debra (ILive@IGive.com), July 09, 2000


no man is an island!-can the hand ,say i,m better than the foot?? JESUS the head, his children-the body!

-- al-d. (dogs@zianet.com), July 09, 2000.


Enjoyed the posts, but am wondering about the author Robert Fulghum, I know I've seen his books but can't remember the titles..have aroused my curiosity..will begin search..

-- george (jones@choices.com), July 09, 2000.

Search reveiled the one I remember "All I needed to know I learned in Kindergarden" ,I'm sure there are others..I remember giving this one to my mother as a gift.. never asked what she thought of it..will try to remember on next visit..

-- george (jones@choices.com), July 09, 2000.

Here again, Deb, I agree with Fulghum. We establish relationships with EVERYONE, from the guy who changes our oil to the clerks at the supermarket. When they move on to other careers or die, we feel a void in our lives. We know these folks on a first-name basis, even though we've never been to their homes or really know ANYTHING about them.

There's a certain JOY associated with dealing with these folks. It's a joy that keeps us coming back. I visited the local store recently and James said, "Anita: I haven't seen you in a week." I said, "Hi, James." Manuel then said, "Anita, did you know Carmen passed?" Carmen was another icon in my life, and Manuel took the time to tell me the whole story.

-- Anita (Anita_S3@hotmail.com), July 09, 2000.

I GUESS, THAT,S WHY-jesus SAID-''LOVE 1 ANOTHER-AS I HAVE LOVED YOU'' CLUE-the disciples wern,t to swift[not-perfect]-in other HEY you guy,s you want me[god] to cut you some-slack??-then do it for-other.s!!!

-- al-d. (dogs@zianet.com), July 09, 2000.


The other book by Robert Fulghum I posted from is titled: It Was On Fire When I Lay Down On It


You bring that joy into many lives yourself. You are as important to the people in your local store as they are to you. When we really grasp this how different our world feels.


I agree. No man is an island. We are all here for each other whether we realize it or not.

-- Debra (ILive@IGive.com), July 09, 2000.

Debra, it is so ironic, that just recently I asked my fellow workers had they ever heard of the book "It was on Fire", and they had not. Each worker has to solve their own area of problems for us all to be successful. My analogy was "it was a mess" (on fire) when you first saw it, we were not responsible for the fire, but we sure as hell can find a fire hydrant that quenches the fire.

-- My Story (andI@sticking.com), July 09, 2000.

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