I have been thinking a lot lately about what exactly it means to “Keep Denton Beard”. Sure, growing a beard and living in Denton is a way to literally “Keep Denton Beard”. And there will probably always be beards aplenty in Denton (my own included), which is why many laugh and nod when they hear that phrase – they understand that, hey, Denton’s got a lot of bearded men. But what about the beardless women and children of Denton? Or the men who are incapable of (for one reason or another) growing a beard? Are we limiting the identity, the heart and soul of Denton, to just a select group of hairy faced men? Are we proposing that all should be bearded? That we should work hard to get some kind of beard (fake or otherwise) on every good citizen of Denton?
Though I do appreciate the beards of Denton and love that many of us have beards, I don’t think that the true heart of “Keep Denton Beard” is the literal face-beard of the men that decide to grow one. At least, I don’t want it to be merely that. It may have started as such, but I want to propose that we give it a deeper meaning, to make it more of a metaphor and perhaps more poetic.
This is the deeper meaning that I propose:
To keep Denton “Beard” is a philosophy of a quality of life that can be found in Denton, particularly found around downtown – and I believe that this “way of life” aims to be the truer heart of Denton and it needs to be preserved and cultivated. I may need to spend a little more time thinking about it, and even have more Beardtopians weigh in with their ideas to get a more accurate definition, but I will do my best to explain a little part of what I think it is. In a few words, I think the philosophy is this: the amicable, unhurried, disentangled engagement and enjoyment of the local culture, history, beauty, businesses, and community of people. This is, in part, what I enjoy most about Denton, and I want to preserve and cultivate this.
So where does the beard fit in to this?
Since it is not the social norm, generally speaking (in these modern times), for the average man to have a beard, we associate the bearded image with the likes of philosophers, poets, “wise” men, artists, musicians, and so on. And it seems to me that all have these have a particular undertone of preoccupation: with being so caught up in something else, that they either forgot to shave or thought it unimportant compared to the activity on hand. When I first started to take part in this way of life here in Denton, I got caught up in it and with the community of people here, just staying local – planting roots, sticking around, hanging out, and enjoying the very heart of Denton. I was so absorbed by this that I felt no need to shave, and even forgot about it. And thus my beard was born and still remains.
Understanding the Denton beard in this way, I think it is easier now to see it as less of a laughable observation and more of an important metaphor of a quality of life – engaging in and enjoying the heart and soul of Denton. To pursue this, to preserve it, to seek it out, and to encourage others to participate in it – this is what it means to “Keep Denton Beard”.
Therefore, my fellow Beardtopians – men, women, and children alike – take part and “Keep Denton Beard”.
(I also encourage anyone who wants to add to this philosophy or try to explain it in greater detail, or from their point of view – please do share your thoughts!)