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  • Writer's picturesteve richardson

A Barber, Some Mountains & Two Boats

A few years ago, I participated in the Himalayan Stage Race. A running race that has as its backdrop, four of the five biggest mountains on Earth; including Mount Everest.

Before the race started, there is a day for competitors to get to know each other and an opportunity to visit the lovely and famous municipality of Darjeeling.

It is here, that I learned a valuable lesson in trust.

I decided to have a haircut from a local barber. In Darjeeling, a westerner having a haircut, turned the open-fronted barber shop into a crowded social gathering. Tea and advice to the barber and me, was plentiful and boisterous.

The haircut done; I was about to leave the chair. The barber had other ideas. He gently pushed me back into the chair and announced to the gathered crowd, “Not finished!”

From a little pocket in his smock, he pulled out and flourished a cut-throat razor. The crowd clapped. I tensed. Now, a shave from a stranger with a cut-throat razor is not inconsequential. The trust level required of both parties, is immense.

Sensing my nervousness, he leant forward and whispered into my ear, “It’s okay sir, slaughtering English only happens on Thursday and today is Friday. It is your lucky day.”

We both laughed and the 1-hour shaving spectacle began, ending in rapturous applause and many broad smiles.Issues of trust faded into the backdrop as I learnt about tea, Bengali cooking and his family.

Trust is a very important feature of the human condition. Trust in others is often hard won and fraught with complications, disappointments and uncertain outcomes. It is a nuanced art with which, the most seasoned diplomat struggles.

However, trusting ourselves should never be such a struggle. The Latin root of the word ‘trust’, expands the definition to embrace qualities such as confidence, courage and security.

To trust and act upon our inner judgement does require us to appreciate how capable, creative and knowledgeable we really are. Our talents and strengths are unique to us and we have developed them since we were small. After all, it seems sensible not to be in two minds about our inner qualities.

The fortitude to experience the way forward, no matter how difficult, is only predicated on how you feel about yourself. Nothing disappears more quickly than self-doubt when you know you have your back. When you trust fully – well, you.

So, please find a way to experience something challenging, uncertain or unknown. Knowing that by trusting yourself, you will be more than okay - you will be amazing.

Let me finish with a piece of wisdom from my Bengali barber. “Sir, in life you cannot be the man travelling with a foot in two boats. Eventually, you will get wet.”

Now that is a piece of sage advice that I can trust.

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