I got a haircut today. Adrian, my hair stylist, is a nice young woman whom I’ve pretty recently entrusted w/ my willful hair. So far, we’ve done well together, although sometimes it takes a while to get things straight between us. Remember that.
Today, she wasn’t her usual immaculately hip self — her carefully bleached short hair was pulled back w/ a pink headband and pink bandana, and she looked tired.
‘How are you?’ I asked.
‘Not so great,’ she told me. ‘I had to take my mom to the hospital today.’
Turns out Adrian’s mother has severe gallstones, and was in a lot of pain. Adrian was obviously worried. From my long-ago & far-away life as a medical journalist, I told her about gall stones: about what causes them, how they’re treated, the long-term effects, and that I’ve never heard of them killing anyone. We talked a moment about the changes this probably would have in her mother’s diet, and generally visited. By this time, she was cutting my hair.
We discussed what I wanted, and she told me she could do somewhere between this & that, and I told her this-ish, please. At least that’s what I thought I told her… Then we talked a bit more, as you do if you like each other. In the meantime, she cut my hair. Turns out it’s more that-ish. But when I saw it in the mirror, it looked fun. Summery, light. Fun. So I left feeling renewed, and bought a couple of things on the way out. Great ending to a possible disaster!
Until I returned home. My best-beloved, who should know better, asked me if I had asked the stylist to ‘do that’ to my hair. I took the heat (because in a way, I had), and said yup, but don’t worry; it will grow. ‘Nuff said, right? Nooooope.
Because in a fit of INSANITY, I told him, ‘Don’t you think it’s okay, really? I kind of like it.’
‘I’ve never found that style attractive,’ he growled. ‘Why would you do that to your hair?’
At this point, all Buddhist equanimity had left me, and I explained LOUDLY that telling someone their hair looked horrible AFTER they couldn’t fix it was NOT KIND. And that I would NOT do that to him — I would either LIE, or find SOMETHING good to say.
Did this stop the conversation? It did not. Although friends, smart folks would have thought so… Again, nope.
‘But didn’t we talk about this before you went in?’ [translation: didn't I listen to you process this ad infinitum boreeum??] And yes, he had. The problem w/ most of your girlfriends living out of town is that you end up discussing girl stuff w/ the guy who lives w/ you.
The upshot? One Buddhist epiphany. Honest. When I left Adrian, I loved my hair. It was short, swingy, and felt like summer. When I finished talking to my husband? I felt terrible. The haircut hadn’t changed. But boy, something else had.
How much of my life do I end up feeling bad because of what something else thinks? And why am I so attached to these opinions? What does this matter, ultimately? Do I think my husband is so shallow he’ll leave me over a bad haircut? Of course not. Am I attached to the idea he will, after all these years, still find me beautiful? Absolutely.
In the end, what matters is that it all passes. The hair will grow out. Big sky mind. But the realisation that enlightenment is kind of like learning from a bad haircut? Wow. As the ad says, priceless.