It was on one of my last trips to school this year that I saw a young man sauntering down the sidewalk in the opposite direction. This was interesting to me for a few reasons. First of all, there aren't that many pedestrians making their way through the neighborhoods of Oakland in the hour just after sunrise. Secondly, his gait was unusual, or at least enough that I would take note of it. He bounced a little as he walked. It put me in mind of John Travolta strutting through Brooklyn. The third part wasn't so much John Travolta as Josh Reddick. This guy had a head of hair and beard that would have made the Oakland A's outfielder pause. This was one hairy, confident dude strolling through the morning.
As is my way, I began to contemplate his experience in terms of my own. Where was this guy going? Obviously in the opposite direction from me. I was on my way to work. Did he have a job? I'm not much of a morning person. What did this guy know that made him so buoyant at this hour?
And that hair.
I shaved off my beard and mustache after my son was born. Every so often, I get a little scruffy, but my beard-growing days are far behind me. As for the big mop he wore up top, my scalp hasn't supported that kind of prodigious shag in, well, ever. Then it occurred to me that what this guy had was something I didn't. It was youth. His direction, his gait, his hair, it all added up. And the sum was "less than Dave."
But here's what I took away from it: I've got age, and the wisdom to reflect on what once was. I might grow a beard again, someday. I know I've got a skull that supports shaving my head. And I know someday soon, I'll strut again.