I've known Al Kavadlo for a while now, but admired the man for much longer. Al is one of the coolest, down to earth guys I know. And probably the fittest dude you can imagine - he is pretty much the biggest name in Body Weight Exercise, and has written some of the best books out there on the subject. And this guy can grow a serious Beard. Take a look at what Al has to say about living the Beard. Enjoy -Ian
Al Kavadlo: Living The Beard
I was out with some friends recently when an acquaintance who I hadn't seen in a while leaned over and asked, "So what's with the beard?"
This sort of thing has been happening to me for a long time. Ever since I started growing my first pair of crappy sideburns back in 8th grade, I have been confronted with similar questions, but now that I sport a full beard down to my chest, they have been happening with greater frequency.
The last time I had seen this fellow I was just a few months in to growing a "yeard" – a beard that is the result of not shaving or trimming one's face for an entire year. This time I was 14 months into the process. On to yeard number two!
But no matter how big my beard gets or how many times I have to explain it, the answer remains the same, "It's not for everyone. But I like it." Maybe if everyone understood, growing a huge beard would be less interesting to me.
Though I experimented with sideburns, goatees and other partial beards throughout my teens, the first time I embarked on growing a full beard was my senior year of college. Inspired by Tom Hanks' character in the movie Castaway, I decided to let my beard run wild and free. I managed to make it a whole semester without shaving or trimming, but the full beard soon became too much for me. Though I eventually lost the nerve to keep going, I knew that I would be back to grow another beard some day.
Growing a beard teaches you a lot about life. Anyone who has a substantial beard has no doubt felt tempted to shave it at some point in the journey. Whether due to itchy cheeks or the simple longing to once again see your own chin, we all have moments of doubt.
Besides the internal struggle, there will also be outside factors to contend with. Naysayers and haters will try to derail you. Stay true to your convictions! It's easy to make a decision; it's a lot harder to see it through to fruition. The restraint and resolve that it takes to persevere through those tough times can carry over to other aspects of life.
Going through the process of the yeard helps one cultivate a certain Zen-like calmness. The beard will itch. The beard will get in the way when you eat, sleep and dress. You may also encounter resistance from friends and family, but you must endure all of this if you wish to fulfill your beard dreams. (Beard Mountain oils help with the itching, though. I wish I'd known that when I was in college!).
Growing a beard will make you stronger and eventually those people who questioned you will respect you for sticking to your guns. It's no wonder that cowboys, wizards, strongmen and scholars are often depicted with long, flowing beards.
Whether you're working on growing your first beard or your fiftieth, the noble way of the beard remains the same. Stay the course. Live the beard.