The Tale of the Two Barbers

Alex Baisley
26 min readJan 22, 2023


By Alex Baisley.

Photo by Álvaro Serrano on Unsplash

If the topic of life purpose, life direction, finding your calling, or put more simply: ‘figuring out what the sweet holy f**k am I doing with my life’ is a big question for you these days, this story is about that…

Once upon a time, there were two young brothers. Twin boys, in fact, and they grew up in a barbering family. Their father was a barber, their grandfather too. Though there had never been any family pressure to follow suit, there had been no doubt in these brothers’ minds that they, too, would grow up to be barbers. They loved everything about it. The bustling barbershop with its pleasant smells, the good-natured chatter of people coming and going that made it feel like it was a hub in their community, and especially the pride they’d seen in the eyes of the barbers who worked there.

When they were older teenagers, the day came when it was time for them to apprentice. After considerable training, hard work, diplomas and much practice, they were finally ready to start their careers. The first thing they each needed was a plan, so one sunny spring morning, with a gentle fresh breeze teasing in through the lace curtain of the kitchen window, the brothers sat down to do just that. They had previously decided they would each open their own shop, because Barber #1 liked the bustle of the city, and Barber #2 the small town. They’d be nearby, of course, but independent. And that suited them both.

This is where the story divides down two paths. The brothers made very different choices over the ensuing days — choices which had a profound impact on how their lives and work unfolded.

Here’s what happened.

Fueled by the envigorating smell of coffee in the kitchen that morning, Barber #1 is at the table with a notebook, calculator, and pen. ‘One fine new barbershop COMING UP!’ he thought. He couldn’t contain the giant smile dividing his head nearly in two.

Pen poised over the inviting blank page before him, his brow furrowed in concentration: ‘Alright. What do I need?

With a premesis he could lease in the city already worked out with an uncle, it was now just a matter of kitting it out. A list began to materialize on the page.

He toured the barbershop he could see in his mind: ‘Out front, I need a sign and a handsome candy cane barber pole. Inside, I’ll need sinks, chairs, a coffee table for the waiting area — oh yes, and subscriptions to a bunch of magazines for the table….’

Soon his page was full, and shortly thereafter, prices beside each item.

Within days, armed with a small-business loan, orders had been made, and the bell began tinkling on the door of his soon-to-be-barbershop as boxes and parcels begin to arrive, quickly filling up the new waiting area.

It was a very exciting time for Barber #1. It was all coming together.

As this played out, Barber #2 was helping his brother with the flurry of activity, but found himself mysteriously holding back on his own plans. He was watching the scenario unfold with an uncomfortable mixture of enthusiasm, and hesitancy.

He hadn’t even started his list for his own barbershop. He’d been dragging his feet, and assumed it must just be because he’d always been a little less courageous than his brother.

Walking into #1’s shop to help assemble the waiting-area chairs a few days later, he was bowled over to find that the whole place had suddenly gone from boxes and a dream, to a beautiful Barber Shop. The transformation was handsome.

But that’s the moment it quietly hit him. Hard.

As boys, growing up before the age of smartphones, the brothers had spent most of their time outdoors. Scrambling up the hillside to the plateau overlooking the sea, riding their bikes all over the landscape of their young world exploring, and being… free. As they grew into young men, they were not much different. From the library or school to a part-time job at the greengrocers, to picnics on the plateau — sometimes with a special somebody if they were lucky. And for Barber #2 in particular, a nearly daily stop at his grandmother’s house, who was a warm light in his life. She was always excited to see him, and would ply him with tea and biscuits.

It was not just his grandmother, though. He had a ‘way’ with older folks in general. He had all the time in the world to sit and listen to their stories. He found them fascinating. And for their part, older folks in the community marvelled at the young man. Rarely, if ever, had they met a young person anything like him. In an age when most people — especially youngsters — had no time for old folks, this young fellow did. He was patient, and listened. He seemed so genuinely interested as they regaled him with story after story from their younger days, or shared a bit of life advice. Truth be told, he’d just always felt more comfortable and ‘himself’ with his grandmother — and the other older folks he knew — than anyone else. People said he was an ‘old soul.’

Standing in his brother’s barber shop, a realization he had not once considered in his whole life came crashing to the forefront of his mind: his father and grandfather had spent their entire lives, five or six days a week, morning till evening… in this small space.

It was their business, after all, and customers counted on them, so they couldn’t leave. A feeling of claustrophobia overtook him, as he began to think about all the things he was going to miss out on when he opened his shop: the plateau, the trails, the coffee shop, the library… It was a different matter entirely to be kids visiting the barber shop amidst a day’s rambles. What had never occurred to him until now was how much different it was going to be when he had no other choice but to be stuck there all day.

He was genuinely proud of his brother and his wonderful new barber shop, and more than a little envious, but he was also feeling profoundly torn inside. He could now see, in sharp relief, what had been troubling him:

‘I’m about to spend the next forty years of my life inside a barbershop. From morning till night.’ He shuddered at the though, his spirits plummeting. With trepidation, the thought even occured to him that barbering may not be for him. Either that, or he was just going to have to suck it up. This is what adults do, he supposed.

Then another troubling thought hit his mind. His grandmother. They have had afternoon visits for as long as he could remember. But now, he thought: by the time he’d close his barber shop for the day, it would be too late for a visit. Much of one, at any rate, because he also hoped he’d eventually have a partner and family of his own — a home to get to for dinner.

What was to become of their relationship? He assumed his grandmother will also be very sad about this, and had probably already thought of it.

It was at that moment, feeling more saddened and lost than he can remember feeling for a long time, that a life-changing thought poked through the gloom in his mind.

‘Hang on… Old people have hair too!’

… ‘Well, quite a few of them do, at any rate.’

That was the exact moment that would change the course of his life — and the lives of a great many others as it happened.

His grandmother had mentioned something to him only last month that had not registered with him at the time, but it did now, and gave him goosebumps. It almost felt ‘meant to be.’

She’d been puttering around her kitchen — more slowly, he could tell, than in past years. Getting around was becoming more and more difficult for her these days. She’d been telling him about a couple of appointments she had coming up in town, including ‘the hairdressers.’

‘Ah gosh,’ she’d said. ‘I’m just not looking forward to these appointments anymore. It’s getting harder and harder to get out and about these days. These hips don’t seem to work like they used to.’

Snapping out of the memory, it now hit him: ‘Wait, what if…’ — his mind all of a sudden still and clear.

‘Could I travel around to visit old folks in their homes and cut their hair?’

With that tantalizing image in his mind, Barber #2 quickly finished assembling the last chair for his brother, and beat a hasty escape to his favourite coffee shop.


He was nearly out of breath from his hurry, and the whirlwind of feelings inside him, as he pulled the door open and bustled in. He ordered a coffee, tapping his foot, and asked the waiter (an old friend) for a pen.

Sitting down and taking a grateful slurp of his coffee, almost burning his mouth in his haste, he grabbed a napkin. Pen in hand…

‘If I’m travelling to people’s homes to cut their hair, what do I need?’

The list was, of course, short: scissors, comb, and a handful of other items. He’d hardly needed the pen, he chuckled to himself. God, everything would fit in a satchel!

As the idea began to take shape in his mind, his first reaction was that he couldn’t tell a soul about this yet. It was all too new, somehow scary. It was so ‘outside’ what he’d ever thought of a barber doing, he couldn’t quite believe that it might be possible. It felt kind of surreal.

What would his father and brother say?

And THAT’S when the doubts rolled in. What if he was wrong about this? What if he couldn’t make a go of it? What if it didn’t work? What if people didn’t WANT their hair cut in their homes? What if he couldn’t make enough money?

He took a fortifying drink of his coffee, and gazed pensively out the window at the town he felt so at home in. He looked back at his scribbled list, and began to negotiate with his doubts.

All told, at least it was very affordable. He could buy everything even tomorrow with the money he already had in his savings. Easy. And it was a HELL of a lot cheaper than his brother’s list. He wouldn’t even have a loan to pay back. Or rent.

‘If I’m wrong,’ he thought “these are all things I need to buy anyhow. I’ll be no further behind. If it turns out to be a terrible idea, I can still do what my brother is doing and open up a shop.’

Draining the last warming drink of his coffee, he came to the most calm and confident conclusion of his life: ‘I’ll never know unless I try. I’m going to ask my grandmother what she thinks.’

Although he was already pretty sure of her response, he was nevertheless quite terrified of how the rest of the family might react to this departure from the expected path. He didn’t want to tell anyone what he was thinking until he spoke with her.

‘WHAAAAAAAAAAAT!!!!!’ his grandmother’s eyes flew open, wide as saucers and twinkling. Her hands thrown up to her cheeks. She looked thrilled.

He’d nervously told her his idea, asking if, theoretically, she’d have any interest in him coming by to cut her hair. And did she think others might like that too?

‘YESSSSSSS!!!!’ her voice boomed like a woman fifty years younger. ‘Holy god, yes!’

The intensity of her reaction surprised him and made him back-peddle a bit. ‘Listen, it’s just an idea so far. Please don’t tell the family yet until I think it through!’ his doubts clawing at him. ‘I still don’t know if this is even a good idea, and I AM worried they’re going to be alarmed by this.’

(Also, in his private thoughts — and they may try to talk me out of this.)

‘Alright, I’ll give you two days. But I know it’s a good idea, and I AM going to tell my friends at the seniors’ club this afternoon, just you try to stop me.’

‘Oh, and as soon as they hear of this at the retirement home, god help you. Best turn on that darn ringer on your phone, for once!’ she’d winked.

He hadn’t seen her so animated in years.

‘Cat’s out of the bag now,’ he thought. He knew how those folks talked. No keeping a secret amongst those characters. Nothing for it now but go back into town for that handsome leather shoulder satchel he’d been eyeing — and fill it with the items on his napkin list.

— And turn his ringer on.

As it turned out, she did not give him two days. Or, to be fair, she’d tried to — but was powerless to contain the news once she’d unleashed it. It was all over town by that night.

‘YOU’RE WHAT?!!’ his father exclaimed.

His heart was in his throat. At the same moment, his phone dinged on the table. He glanced down. A text from his brother: ‘Just heard….’ He’d respond later.

He looked back up at his father. This man had supported the whole family, including his brother and him, by turning the open sign on the door of his barbershop five, six days a week for decades. Barber #2 did not feel it respectful, or wise, to admit that he was feeling the whole thing now claustrophobic — given his father’s sacrifices. He feared he was being selfish, or worse… childish. So he chose his angle carefully.

He told the story of his grandmother having a harder time getting out to appointments. ‘It’s got me wondering if some of these older folks might like to have their hair done in their homes,’ he offered. (Seemed a little more selfless.)

His father’s eyebrows flew up, and Barber #2 held his breath. He didn’t have to wait long.

‘THAT’S A TERRIFIC IDEA!’ his father bellowed — nearly the same reaction as his grandmother! ‘Good god almighty, son! I wish I’d thought of that myself about twenty years ago!’ he grinned, and clapped his son proudly on the shoulder. ‘You’ll be brilliant at that! Give it a go! If it turns out you don’t like it, you can always change your mind, but you’ll never know unless you try!’

Another ding… his brother again. ‘You go ahead and answer him,’ his father said, reaching for the kettle. ‘He’s likely on the edge of his seat if he’s caught wind of this like I did. We didn’t see it coming.’

He opened the text…

‘Traveling around to old folks???! What about your barbershop?’ (he’d obviously heard the entire idea. Worst-kept secret in town, evidently.)

‘I don’t know, I just want to try this.’

‘Fair enough. Not a bad idea. I’ll send you my customers who are too old and doddery and falling asleep in my chair — haha.’


The following Tuesday afternoon, with a fine new leather satchel over his shoulder, Barber #2 showed up at his grandmother’s house. The smells of coffee and baking flowed invitingly out the front door as she opened it.

She had gussied herself up a good deal for this ‘appointment,’ he noticed with a quiet smile.

She had a towel at the ready, a chair newly devoid of clutter set up in the middle of the kitchen, and cookies on the table. She’d been ready to go for hours, he reckoned.

‘What’s your schedule like?’ she asked him as he was getting ready. ‘Millie is wondering if you might be available later for her?’


Before he knew what hit him, he was booked solid.

A few weeks in, it began to dawn on him that it was not always just about a haircut. It was about a visit. They clearly enjoyed his company, of course, as he did theirs. But it was also sometimes about loneliness, and need for connection. Who doesn’t need that!? Some of his clients felt lost, irrelevant, or forgotten in a ‘young world.’ Nobody asked them questions anymore, or wanted their help with anything. No one seemed interested in their life experiences. And further — for many, no one touched them anymore. Having someone brushing and cutting your hair can be a deeply healing experience, he was starting to realize.

After a sip from the ubiquitous tea or coffee offered him, he’d dig out his comb and draw it through their hair with spritzes from his water bottle. ‘How’s your daughter doing?’ he’d ask.

The ‘old age home,’ as it used to be called, got in touch within weeks and asked if he’d consider coming by once in a while. They offered to put a sign-up list on the corkboard. Could he do once a week?

Fast forward twenty years:

Barber #1:

It was early evening on a Friday, nearly dinnertime. The sky was dimming, and the overcast clouds this past month didn’t help. It felt later than it should, for summer.

Barber #1 had finished work for the day.

Another day, another week, another year, and another decade.

With his last customer come and gone, he turned the lock on the shop door and switched off the outdoor barber pole light. With heaviness — he turned the open sign, which hung on its chain in the window, to ‘closed.’ Another week done.

He swept, mopped, and took the garbage out. He straightened up the magazines and chairs in the waiting area, like he has done most nights for twenty years.

Instead of rushing out the door, home to the family this Friday, he paused. He just wanted to sit for a moment. He leaned his mop against the wall, took a seat in the barber chair his customers sit in, and looked around his shop.

He still felt a lot of pride in this place, but it had been a tougher slog these twenty years than he’d anticipated. It wasn’t so much the work exactly, but how it had taken over his life. Retirement seemed a long way off yet, and he felt sad and almost embarrassed that THAT was his biggest excitement these days.

On this particular day, he’d been feeling full of regret about things he’d missed out on in life being inside this shop, with his family in particular. ‘There are no holidays in this business,’ he mused. Rarely enough even Saturdays.

When was the last time he’d been out for a hike to the plateau, he wondered. When was the last picnic?

And his lovely wife… She’d always been so supportive of his work. She tolerated him rarely being around for anything, and understood his not being able to. She would sometimes kiss his head, hugging him from behind as he sat doing his paperwork at the kitchen table. And remind him not to work so hard.

He was also agonizingly aware she’d only had one big dream of her own all these years since they’d met — the one thing she’d always wanted to do. ‘Before I die’, she’d said.

To take a big cruise on a ship somewhere.

She’d mentioned it to him on their first date when they were hardly more than kids, side-by-side, gazing from the plateau at a big ship gliding over the horizon and out of sight.

‘Just once is all I need,’ she’d said, staring after it. ‘Around the world, ideally. A trip that would last weeks so you could settle into it. I want to see some of this wide world beyond here, and what the ocean looks like when you can’t see the land anymore.’

She’d mention the dream once every few years since, wistfully. It had never changed. He thought of it every time he looked out to sea.

They had the savings to do it, easily enough. It was the gift ‘back’ he’d always hoped to give her — for her support and sacrifices, and how she’d always held the homefront together despite a career of her own.

They have yet to do it, and it weighed heavily on him. He’d never felt he could put the closed sign up at the barbershop for such a length of time. And retirement was still… so far off. Anything could happen to either of them between now and then, as the early death of a dear neighbour had reminded them. The damn shop had become like a prison he could never get out of when it really mattered, when he was missing things.

As he sat in his barber chair, his mind filled with such things, his body felt weary. And he thought…

Maybe barbering was not for me.

Barber #2:

The same Friday, in the town the brothers had grown up in…

Barber #2 had just finished up at the senior’s centre for the day — a little later than usual after being conscripted into a ‘quick game’ of shuffleboard with his clients. Eventually making his excuses, he headed out the door for his walk home. His trusty leather satchel over his shoulder, he breathed the fresh air of the evening, taking in the familiar sights, and glanced up at the trails on the bluff he knew every inch of.

The sky was darkening, but the rain held off. Anyway, he had an umbrella strapped to his satchel as always — he was always prepared. The evening felt ‘close’ and cozy to him.

His trusty leather boots made their soothing crunching sound on the familiar laneway as he thought back on the folks from his day.

What a great bunch of mavericks he got to spend his time with — characters, the lot of them. Even though they all knew his name, his customers referred to him fondly as ‘the Barber,’ and he loved it. He had been cutting their hair twenty years now.

He walked past the graveyard, with a nod and a smile to the place his grandmother’s ashes now reside — in the centre of an uncontrollable riot of wildflowers. (No matter how hard the perplexed gardener had tried to create a perfect green lawn there, those flowers defied him. He’d eventually given up and just let them be.)

Smiling, he thought of the day he’d first mentioned his traveling-barber idea to his grandmother. What neither of them could ever have imagined that day is where this would lead him.

To begin with, making his living had been a lot easier than it otherwise would’ve been. The rising rent and expenses his brother had to contend with to keep his barbershop open were simply not a worry for Barber #2. ‘His satchel of tools, phone, and a new pair of boots once in a while were pretty damn affordable,’ he chuckled.

But that was the least of the differences.

It has been far more than the money.

It was the freedom he’s had in his life. He has been able to come and go as he pleased, and do things with his family he never would have been able to do if he had a shop. He’s been there for them when important things were going on all these years.

He’s never missed a school play, or music recital. He’s never missed a picnic on the plateau (his favourite — in fact, they were usually his idea.) And when one of the kids was sick or had to stay home from school, he’d made a few calls and stayed home with them.

He and his family had been on two or even three adventures a year, most years. They loved to travel or go camping. Their photo albums — — and their hearts — — brimmed and bubbled over with memories together.

It had always been so effortless to plan. He’d only ever needed to let his clients know ahead of time when he was going to be away, and they’d book appointments around it. They rarely complained about this — in fact always seemed to encourage him, even press him — to make sure he took time for himself, and his young family. ‘Carpe diem,’ a client had told him. For one thing, most of them knew his wife and kids, and liked to hear his stories when he got back. For another… he learned many of them came to the uncomfortable regret too late in their lives that they, too, might have made more time for family and enjoyment. Times had been harder for many of them, granted, but as one customer said, patting his shoulder sagely as he was heading out her front door: “You go enjoy your family, young man. It’s far too easy to squander life while it’s actually happening, no matter how tough the times.” She’d often told him she had never met a man with such a good set of priorities.

But something even bigger — beyond his own life and family — had also unfolded…

It had started many years ago. He’d come home from his day’s rounds, help out with the kids and dinner, and soon find himself sitting at the table with the family. The usual kinds of conversation would bubble along, and pretty soon, someone would ask him about his day.

With an instinctive respect not to share names or sensitive things that could become gossip, he’d find himself sharing stories he’d heard from his customers — funny childhood experiences perhaps, or an intriguing nugget of wisdom. Other times an impressive event from someone’s past — like the man whose soft, thin white hair he’d cut that day who had risked his neck during the war to smuggle a jar of honey back to the bunker where families were hiding.

These stories had just felt like ‘normal conversation’ at first, the ‘how-was-your-day’ talk you might hear around many’s the family dinner table. It took him months to fully realize something more profound was afoot: it was when he’d see his wife and children laugh, raise their eyebrows in amazement — or maybe get a little teary hearing one of his client’s more poignant stories.

Laying in bed one night, his wife was reading her novel while he attempted distractedly to read his. He couldn’t concentrate — his mind alive yet again with his customers’ stories…

He was picturing the bunker, filled with scared and exhausted parents, and gloomy children. Now, with a family of his own, he could so easily put himself in the scenario. He imagined how their sad faces must have lit up when his (now white-haired and feeble) client — then much younger and a force to be reckoned with — had burst in. With a powerful glint in his eye, he pulled from his coat pocket the giant jar of contraband honey he’d stolen straight out of an officers’ mess hall.

“He was an angel sent straight from heaven,” — a sudden quiet voice. The words had come from a woman sitting nearby at the seniors’ home — she’d been patiently awaiting her turn for a haircut. He had noticed her before, and assumed she was lost in her own thoughts as the story unfolded, but it turned out she’d been quiet for different reasons.

She and her two children had been there that night.

“They’d have shot him if they’d caught him,” she said, and paused. “…and he knew that.” She had looked at the white-haired man tenderly, almost reverently. There was a quiet nod of understanding between them, and that’s all she’d said.

And why had he risked being killed, all for a jar of honey? “To give the kids a reason to smile again,” he’d responded. “They deserved it, brave little things.”

The Barber slid his comb through the man’s hair, moisture in his eyes.

He and his friends had played often in that shell of a bunker as kids, entirely oblivious that a brave moment like this had once happened inside.

Resting his book on his chest, he sighed. “I am the only one hearing these stories, and it’s killing me. People should know them!” he said, staring at the ceiling.

His wife turned her head on her pillow to look at him. He went on. “They complain and whine sometimes, like we all do, and they can gossip and talk a lot of drivel too. But so MUCH of what they tell me is pure gold. And often, I’m the only one who hears it! No one else is listening to them!”

“Ah gosh,” his wife said, now laying her book down also, “I guess that’s the way with the world these days. We don’t respect the elders.” She thought for a moment about what he’d said. “Perhaps you could at least start collecting some of these stories in your notebook?” she suggested, knowing he usually kept a journal in his messenger bag to scribble thoughts or a sketch from time to time.

The Barber was up the next morning bright and early, the coffeepot percolating an hour before his alarm would normally have gone off. He found a fresh empty notebook on the kids’ bookshelf and brushed his hand tenderly across the cover. With satchel on his shoulder, and coffee inside him, he headed out the door into the fresh morning.

When interviewed years later, he would say this was the day it had all begun.

“It’s good to see you!” a client… towel at the ready, and biscuits on a plate.

“And you! It’s been a while!”

“Yes it has! I missed you last time only because, you’d never believe it, my son…”

And the story would unfold.

From that day onward, he made regular entries in his notebook, and as one month turned into another, it began to fill.

He now understood how his daughter must feel about her colourful beach glass collection. She’d been collecting it, piece by piece, on her low tide walks beneath the plateau, and they gleamed cheerily in a big jar in the sunny kitchen window.

He was pretty sure he felt the same about his book.


Three overflowing and well-worn notebooks later, he was having coffee with his oldest friend, who was home for a visit. Now men, they had been best friends since childhood. The Barber had just told him the story about the bunker.

“Oh my god!!! I had no idea! We played there all the time when we were kids!” he exclaimed, shaking his head in amazement. “I suppose you must hear plenty of great stories like this, with your job?”

The Barber reached into his bag and gently placed his latest dog-eared notebook on the table between them — first time he’d ever showed it to anyone but his wife. His friend looked at him quizzically, and picked it up. Opening it carefully, he began slowly leafing through the pages, stopping to read snippets as he went. The Barber was quiet. It felt good to finally share this.

Still holding the book, his friend eventually looked up and spoke quite seriously. “I had no idea you were doing this. Buddy, I’m telling you now… this is important. I can feel it. I think other people need to see this too. You need to put this stuff into a book!”

“A book?!” the Barber spluttered. “I couldn’t write a book!”


The day his book came out, the local bookshop held a launch party, and he found himself — to his astonishment — sitting at a table signing books. ‘Imagine,’ he chuckled to himself… ‘The Barber! Signing books!’ But he was secretly VERY proud — especially when he spotted his wife and kids smiling at him.

In the final editing, he’d of course changed names as needed and deleted what was deemed too sensitive, but by and large, he couldn’t believe how supportive his clients had been.

He’d worried at first most wouldn’t WANT to be quoted in a book when it came to it. It had, in fact, been the opposite. When word got out he was writing it — which took all of about two weeks for everyone over seventy in three towns to know about, they had even started calling him at his home — ASKING if they could be in his book, maybe sharing another story while they had him on the phone.

What he supposed they were thinking, if not in these words exactly, was: “For once… someone is listening to me. I DO have something to say. My life mattered. My life STILL matters. In this frail-looking body once was somebody fierce, or famous, brave, or funny. I DO have a story, and so help me god, I’m going to call ‘the Barber’ right now — no matter if he’s sitting down to dinner or not — and tell it to him.”

Within a week of the book coming out, EVERYONE was talking about it.

When he climbed into bed only a few nights after the release, there could not have been fewer than a hundred heads propped up on pillows and couch-arms the town over, his book in hand and reading glasses perched on noses.


He turned the ringer off on his phone and set it on the nightstand — it had been dinging up a storm. A rare and profound peace seemed to well up inside him.

“This was what I was meant to do,” he thought. “This was exactly what I was meant to do.”

He rolled over and gently removed the book out of his wife’s hands, with a wink. She switched off the lamp.


ALL of his clients bought the book, even those who were IN IT and wouldn’t hear otherwise when he explained that they needn’t pay. And meanwhile, scenes were unfolding around the town behind his back…

“Oh my GOD, that’s ME!!” one of his clients bellowed around the dining room, accidentally flinging bits of supper from the fork in her free hand.

Another, her eyes not so good these days, but lucky enough to have a visiting niece reading aloud to her, laughed like she hadn’t done in years, eventually needing tissues.

‘That’s the story of mine he said he’d share!’ — another woman, on the phone with the fourth family member she’d called in less than ten minutes.

His clients demanded their families buy copies of the book to send to distant relatives. The book was selling like hotcakes, and before long, the introverted Barber #2 found himself being interviewed all over the place about his book.

Though shy, overnight the Barber became a passionate advocate — sharing the same message, over and over: ‘There’s life wealth here with our elders, and you’re missing out on it. And they are too. Go call someone up, or drop by for a visit. Take a little time to listen to their stories. Don’t wait until it’s too late.’

Families over supper, friends in coffee shops, colleagues around water coolers, and folks in senior’s homes were a-buzz about it for weeks. There was scarcely a person who read it who did not pause, at some point, to consider their own elders, and give them a call or go for a visit. And those without one to call wondered if they could find themselves one.

What he did not know at that point was his journey had only just begun. He would continue his rounds, and over time put out several books that sold all over the country and beyond, and a popular blog. Stories were being sent to him from around the country, and before long, from other countries too. All from older folks with something to share.

“I have a story here I wanted to share with you. For your books,” a shakily written letter might begin.


It was near dusk on this Friday, a little over twenty years since he made his first day’s rounds. As he walked home, he rounded the last bend and noticed the bright crescent of the moon seemed to be sitting right on the grass of the plateau — as if you could go up and have a picnic leaning against it. He paused a moment to appreciate it, and breathed in the cool fresh air — with its comforting fragrance of sea and wildflowers.

Feeling the familiar leather satchel warm against his side, the only thought in his head, as he turned for home, was:

“Barbering was so for me.”

The End.

Hi, I’m Alex, the author of this little tale.

If you found this story inspiring, drop me a line or comment below and tell me about it! And if you have been wondering about your life-direction yourself, I cordially invite you to check out my Big Dream Program. For more than 15 years it has been dedicated to helping people find their own version of ‘Barber #2’.

Incidentally, this Tale of Two Barbers is part of my wee book, Tamara & The Taverna Keeper, which you can read in its entirety here if you’d like.

A little message about me, and why I wrote this story…

I ❤️ working with people who feel a deep desire to figure out their own unique way they can help our collective world and community, and also have a sane and satisfying personal life — rich in life-wealth.

Why I, personally, do this work: I like to think of myself as a gardener, of sorts. I’ve spent the last two decades working full-time with folks who are out there making our community and world — or most importantly their inner world — a kinder place. And watching these people over years, I’ve had a ring-side seat to see the beautiful ripple effects the changes they make (big or small) has on others around them.

It’s led me to believe that the solutions to our world’s problems, the many many many forms of beauty, music, art, peace, laughter and enjoyment, and breakthroughs in compassionate and kind-to-our-planet living that we have not heard of yet, but which will make life for all of us so much better…

Already exist.

As seeds deep in the hearts of people out there right now — on sidewalks, crossing kitchens, on the subway, walking a path, or reading my words now. Someone is dreaming of changing their life, another of teaching kids how to connect with nature, another of writing their memoir, another to start growing their own vegetables with their family.

They feel this seed as a tugging in their heart. They feel its ‘call’. It may not be selfish to pay attention to it. It may be the most unselfish thing we could ever do.



Alex Baisley

Commercial diver turned Reiki Master then founder of the Big Dream Program: I’m here: