Pulling threads and splitting hairs


I have new appreciation for why Buddhists shave their heads. For most of last week, I felt creative, centered, supported, and confident. I floated through the week, appreciating the abundance and flow infusing my life while approaching a series of pending life changes with equanimity and humor. Relishing my sense of balance and confidence, I mused Is this what enlightenment feels like?

Then I had my hair colored.

Ah, back to my humble place once again. Over the past four years, I have focused on growth in many forms—creative, emotional, spiritual…. I have meditated, journaled, prayed, played, walked, breathed, and meditated some more. And I have made noticeable strides on big issues like forgiveness, acceptance, gratitude, courage, love, and joy.

But nothing—I mean nothing—tweaks me, destabilizes me, and spits me out of my center like stewing about my hair. I have spent entire meditation sessions fretting about a bad cut or an orangish tint in my newly dyed hair. I have dedicated many paragraphs in my journals complaining about another expensive botched dye job. And I have consumed hours outside of these centering practices worrying, venting, and pulling my hair out. Why should something so inconsequential to my overall well-being throw me completely off balance?

In my defense, these little, but persistent thoughts incite highly seductive threads. And thinking that a single tiny complaint, irritation, worry, or doubt won’t hurt, I succumb to the temptation of pulling these threads. Yet with one seemingly harmless tug, a small irritation morphs quickly into something insidious and consuming, giving the universe an opportunity to teach me another life lesson—and lesson in humility.

While walking on Saturday, I felt unsettled on a number of subjects that had not troubled me in the least a day earlier. Confused and dismayed, I wondered why I felt so rattled. Then I rooted through my emotional bank to search for the source. Oh yeah, I remembered with dread, my weird hair color.

Then I began to see how I’ve been complicit in the repeated problems I seem to have with my hair. In other words, my chronic expectation of lousy hair has not served me well. Nor has my careful, nervous coaching to many a stylist likely inspired much sympathy. As I reached these conclusions, I laughed at my own ridiculousness.

I wish I could say with Zen-like calm, “It’s just hair.” But it’s my hair. Since I’m loathe to shave it off, this topic will undoubtedly continue to teach me the humor and the benefit of these pesky habits of thought, which keep hooking us until we make a different choice. I’d love to re-train myself into an expectation of great-looking hair. In the meantime, perhaps it’s enough to resist pulling the thread.

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