She asks me why I’m such a hairy girl I’m hairy noon and night, hair that’s a fright I’m hairy high and low, don’t ask me why. Don’t know. It’s not for lack of bread like the Grateful Dead.
*********** Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, Flow it, show it, as long as God can grow it, my hair
Hair, from the 1968 musical
Fifty two years and here we are again. I confess I enjoyed the musical immensely and I never nagged my husband or my son about their long hair,
For weeks now in 2020, the hair cutters were shut down and hair grew. Our Prime Minister Trudeau seems to have gone with flow and I love his curls. Some people, who lived with other people, ordered clippers on line and got hair cuts. For better or worse. Anderson Cooper’s was all right unless he turned his right side to the camera. Chris Cuomo not bad, but poor guy had been really sick. My Facebook friend, Jeanne, rushed gleefully out when our late opening city finally got to stage -whatever. My own sister got the first morning appointment and sat between plexiglass screens. At no risk. And why didn’t I go to her hairdresser as well? My sister still goes to a first class hairdresser. I had to down scale to First Cut, $21 with the senior discount. I object to paying $100, but even more I object to the unnecessary risk of infection every 6 weeks. (I am following the CDC advice to avoid routine dental care. as well, but, hey, I floss.)
It’s not even the price. My hair started growing as the quarantine went on and on, and I remembered it was curly. The mirror showed me an older, much older version of my young self. My hair is at present pewter colored, whereas it was once brown. But there were those same waves. Miracle of miracles!.
Waves are not to be envied. They are single-minded and defiant. Some days they sulk and droop or on others, stand on end like Medusa’s.
Every young woman, reporter, actress, congress woman has long straight hair. Persons like me with a flawed fusiform face area in their brain, can’t tell one from the other except by hair color. But there’s the age-old rule, passed down by grandmothers: older women should have short hair. My own grandmother wound her long white hair up in a chaste bun for many years and looked like a woman with a very short cut. And tell that to the women, who live in Pine Mountain Club in the California mountains. They proudly swing their long, grey locks over their canvases and pottery wheels. They clap on a straw sombrero or a cowboy hat to add to the effect.
When you decide to grow your hair out, it gets untidy, still too short for a pony tail or a twist, and prone to escaping in the front and low on the neck, especially when you wear a hat and a mask and glasses. How annoying to have this pointed out before you can get to a comb. Or this in the elevator: ‘But what are you going to do with it?’ (You can tie it in a knot. You can tie it in a bow. You can throw it o’er your shoulder, like a continental soldier..)
Look I’m bored out of my skin. I’m 84 years old. I go out to get groceries. Period. I read. I stream mysteries. I stare out at the sky from my 14th floor window. But I have found an engrossing activity: I watch my hair grow.
Let me be.
Or maybe I’ll shave my head down to a bristle like the ‘person’ in Millions. Or a Buddhist monk. They say it clears your mind.
I could actually go out according to stage 3 rules of pandemic. I could go to a bar. I like sitting at Cagney’s with a glass of Butternut Chardonnay. With a book. At the short end where there is just enough light to read. Three guys will be sitting in the middle of the long side, separately, one talking to the owner, another flirting with the barmaid. Cagney’s is a Greek restaurant, oddly, and the owner goes to California to get wines no one else imports. It was tough discovering in the early days of the pandemic shut-down that this was the only hobby which got me out of the house. It was tough that the bars were closed for nearly five months. It was also tough that I had to stop drinking. Something about medication and continual dizziness.
But I don’t. Go out.
I get dizzy listening to the statistics. We are leveled off here in Toronto, fewer cases, fewer deaths. For now. I’ve given up keeping track of the deaths and hospitalizations in the U.S. I packed it in around 100,000 departed souls. No the statistic that bothers me is the one that tells me my chances of succumbing. I am 84 and apparently have a 75% chance of surviving. That seemed like good odds when I had cancer. Not anymore. Surviving Covid-19 is an adventure I want to skip. If I want to drown, I’ll just jump in the pool, I’m that bad a swimmer.
So I stay in. Except for weekly early seniors’ hour at the supermarket.
I spend the better part of an hour every day in the mountains of Kern County, California. Via Facetime. My daughter calls every day, realizing that I’m in solitary for my own protection. I know the place well and some of the people and I have her catalogue what’s she’s doing there. The mornings are getting cold at 6000 ft. Autumn already on the wind. And some days I spend Facetime in a suburb of Brussels, which has seen a rise in cases and less freedom of movement. My brother’s bubble seems to be quite large, but as I reported in chapter 2, he also seems to have had Covid. I see my sister up the street a few times a week without aid of device, but we thrash over Trump every night on the phone. We should be suffering over our Prime Minister’s charity scandal, but the fate of the world is not riding on it. (The first 5 posts are available at 115journals.com.)
In that post, I proposed the idea that we signed up for our roles in life before we undertook incarnation, and that as bits and pieces of God, we had a role in planning events as well. I pondered whether some souls put up their hands to play bad guy. It seemed to me that all types of experience were necessary throughout our many incarnations.
(There are several references in the Bible to reincarnation which the early censors failed to catch.)
I talked to a friend about this idea and she was equally convinced that souls fell into the role of villain through lack of awareness. The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Soygal Rinpoche’s The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and Robert Thurman’s Infinite Life among other books teach us the stages of dying, usually pictured as different kinds of light ending in the vast clear light of consciousness. It is essential to see that light in order to choose your next reincarnation wisely. Confused souls are swept willy-nilly into the next life. This is the way people find themselves incarnating as foundlings who grow into psychopaths or bad painters who found evil empires or rich boys who are given no love or spiritual grounding and become men without empathy. These books encourage us to meditate on this path to clear light so we are prepared when the time comes.
I find that I can’t even keep the stages in order and my experience with death tells me that it’s not the only route. My father, who was the foundling, was not even likeable and even thoroughly evil and yet, I loved him. Before he died, he made an act of contrition, calling each of the children he could get hold of and saying ‘Sorry’. I watched his cruel death. While many others wished him in hell, I knew that heaven makes no judgement. He had put in his time in hell on earth, as most of us do. I knew that he had been welcomed and that his nature there was as pure and good as it had been when he was born in a New Hampshire work house and sold to a ‘nice couple’. Years after his death, he appeared at the bedside of a loved one who was in the grip of acute psychotic terror. He assured her he was there to protect her. It was he, of course, who had caused the terror when she was a child.
In another case, a young-gish woman died in a state of rage, which no doubt prevented her from sorting out firefly light from moonlight or clear light. Almost instantly, several of us were aware of a great love she was sending back to us. We had striven to help her on her way, but the people closest to her fastened on her anger and grieved without consolation.
And then there was Blake, my ex-husband, whom we sat beside for ten days. He was grumpy with his pain and childlike, still arguing that he should be able to drive when he got out of hospital. Eventually, he sank into a sort of coma. We didn’t stop talking to him. The ‘girlfriend’, who said old men disgusted her, got into arguments with staff and had to be led away for private chats. His son and step-daughter talked to him and held his hand. I read him Rumi poetry and sang when we were alone. On the last day, we were all 4 there, telling stories about him. He could be very funny, sometimes intentionally. So we laughed a great deal. And cried too. As his executor, I was ready for my final duties, but when he shuddered out that last breath, I lost it. I could barely remember how to dial the undertaker, I was so shaken, So shaken, that I forgot his clothes and he went to the fire wearing a blue hospital gown.
My sister reported that he made an aerial pass through her living room that night, blue gown flying, clearly in bliss. The next glimpse we got of him, he was hurrying off to an advanced physics class, completely absorbed in his tablet and books.
Blake was not spiritually woke in his last years. He had some dementia. He left me his confirmation Bible, which he never, ever read. I have the King James Bible, the NewEnglish Bible, the NIV Study Bible and the Amplified Bible, so he thought I was the right recipient. He knew that to me the Bible was literature. He left his fervent wishes for Bernie Sanders, who was still in the running, and a colossal mess in his home and his affairs. I have cursed him many times as we sorted it out, but Blake is preparing to come back and implement a universal wage. Presumably, he will branch into advanced economics next semester.
Which is to say, with all due respect to the Dalai Lama, the Rinpoches and Thurman, that there are many ways to pass and not get swept into the gutter next time.
Having helpers is useful. I have chanted with the Taoists for the departed. I have lit candles and prayed by myself. During the pandemic, I have been very conscious of the dying and the dead. There is an army of us thinking and praying for them. And Angels. I worried initially about dying sedated on a ventilator. No worry now. I’ve opted out. DNR. At the worst, I’d just die sedated. Now I think it doesn’t matter. We don’t need religion to show us the way. And we don’t need to be there with a check list: “there goes the moonlight, clear light coming up.” We don’t even need mental health, although the one necessary thing may lead to that. All we need is love.