The hair on one’s head, or indeed the lack thereof, is as much a part of our persona as the way in which we carry ourselves, walk, talk, laugh, dance or even sit in a chair.
When we get dressed in the morning we’ll have a quick look in the mirror and then make our way to work or go about errands (men will on average spend much less time doing this than women but I’m not judging…just saying). We then carry that mental image with us the rest of the day in our minds eye. And to us, it’s what we think the world sees of us for that day.
I mean, if no one tells you about the piece of food stuck between your teeth after a satisfying lunch or the bird poo that landed on your head while you were walking to lunch, you’d still have that image from the morning of yourself and it would be quite out of date.
But that’s not the whole story. We also filter everything we say or do or see or hear through internal layers that add or subtract from what we actually saw based on our experiences. These layers change the way we see the world.
For instance, a car passes in front of you on the freeway but it’s a little too close for comfort, immediately you apply filters and judgements to that person that in all probability don’t match the person in the real world. He’s a reckless driver with no consideration for others. In reality though he may just not have seen you or perhaps he wasn’t close to you at all.
We do this with ourselves too. We may be overly or less critical of ourselves when we see that image in the mirror and carry a skewed view of ourselves around with us for the balance of the day that may not actually match reality. We might for instance think we did a good job shaving the stubble off because we got all the shaving cream off very neatly, but in reality we could have missed a spot of stubble because we never applied and cream there. Then, when we give ourselves the once over we see what we see, a patchy shave, but our filters show us something as smooth and sculpted as a marble statue.
By the same token, the people that you encounter in your day are also applying filters to everything that touches their lives and they’ll do that to you too. Hair plays a fairly significant role in that dynamic.
My youngest boy has curly hair. Really curly hair. We’ve let it, for lack of a better word, sprawl all over his little head and in truth he is probably in desperate need of a haircut. When his hair is dry it does not really look that much longer than his older brothers completely straight hair.
It most definitely is though.
You add water to the curly mop and immediately it quadruples in length and slides down his back into a perfect mullet and then entirely covers his ears and slumps more than half way down over his sweet little face.
Then it dries and magically curls up like a wound spring in a wild and carefree parody of actual human hair. Each tuft taking new and interesting directions away from the centre of his head with all the abandon of potato sprouts.
There is no point in applying a brush to it. One might just as uselessly try to polish your shoes whilst standing in ankle deep mud.
I often wonder what image he will carry around with himself when he’s older and how this physical trait of his will influence his personality or the way he is perceived in the world. Will he be labelled as a free-spirit before people even hear him speak a word? It’s all very chicken and egg if you think about it.
We have come to refer to these curls affectionately as ‘perry-winkles’ but that’s just us, his loving parents, applying filters to how we perceive our perfect little child.
In reality though, he is just one restless sleep away from dreadlocks.