Oh ... when I was fifteen or so I made a promise to myself that I would never grow facial hair.
In my mind back then a beard was a kind of threat; the moustache an ancilliary threat. Sporting a beard meant so many things, I thought. If it was well-trimmed, it denoted attention to detail, time invested, a preocuppation with appearances. If it was wild and bushy, it denoted slovenliness, lack of discipline, being a hippy and a bum and a traitor. Traitor to what? Traitor to the masses of men shaving every day to keep their skin smooth and working towards a greater future for humanity. The insanity! Ah, but delusion is often the motivator of fantastic dreams, and ignorance the engine of achievement.
As I grew older I was doomed. I grew the bushy beard; the existential struggle was in my bones, and how best to let it get through to my face? I wore the perfectly trimmed full beard; the desire to look good smothered by nerves, and how best to release the demon? I went with the goatee; the desire for sophistication rattled inside the musty cage of my existence. Sideburns, a straight cut of hair, various lengths, angles, depths, textures, even colors -- I sported a blue bushy goatee for a time -- you name it, I wore it.
And now experience has made me older but not wiser. I never wanted to feel the chill of the existential anguish; but I did, and it sundered me. I never wanted to know attachment to beauty, attachment to youth, attachment to mindless joy; but I did, and it tore me to shreds.
I was feeling sick and tired and blue earlier and of all things, the thought of Kurt Cobain inspired me with happiness.
I broke my promise to always shave. I've broken a million promises to myself, but continue to find the will to make new ones. And to break them.
Once you make a promise, you cannot un-make it; and that is almost more tragic than keeping it or breaking it.