Beard Ethics 101
Created by jact 5 years ago
Unfortunately, I did not know Mark Lewis well. Despite being registered for the Winter 2015 edition of his presentation class, my interactions with Mark had mostly been limited to an exchange of a few polite words with Mark in passing around Allen Hall. His presence was always felt, even by those who did not know him well, as his joyous nature and willingness to help other students filled the whole building. However, I do have a memory of Mark that stands out to me. One that I feel really captures what he meant to me and a lot of students and why he will be missed.
My first interaction with Mark occurred about a year ago during an Ad Society meeting. I had come by on a whim, only to find out that Mark was slated to speak during the meeting. He first instructed us on how to properly introduce ourselves, which included a proper handshake: proper grip, solid eye contact and a pleasant smile. During this exercise he made a point of personally greeting everyone. As he did so, he would correct his shaking partners form, but made a point of truly getting to meet each student whose hand he shook.
When it was eventually my turn to shake his hand, Mark adjusted my grip and reminded me to own my name. But meeting Mark Lewis is not like meeting anybody else. After just a brief moment of eye contact, Mark could see deep into your soul in a way that would almost be terrifying if it weren’t so damn friendly. Though no matter what it was that he saw, or felt, when shaking your hand and locking eyes, Mark would smile back with a sincerity that was just as warming as a greeting from a long lost family member. He saw the goodness in all of us.
Later in the meeting, we did a Q&A session with Mark, searching for bits of advice stemming from his long and storied career. He told of when he had been paid to shave his beard for an acting part he had received. Being a recent beard grower, I was curious as to his ethics surrounding his beard, and asked him if he regretted his decision. Mark responded in classic fashion, drawing laughter from the crowd as he told me: “No! Of course not!” looking me directly in the eyes and emphatically nodding his head.
Since that day, I have shaved my beard only once, and immediately regretted it. Looking in the mirror, I felt as though I were looking back into Mark’s eyes as I shook his hand. Once again, he was telling me to own my self. Analyzing my newly clean shaven face, I could hear him asking me the same question I had asked him: “Do you regret it?” This was the man that Mark was. A man who was wholly dedicated to not just his students, but anyone who would listen. A man who passed down wisdom in every word, action and deed. A man who will never be replaced, but will always be remembered.