You never know what you are going to hear when you are getting your hair done.
I was going about my usual weekend routine when a man reminded me that we as humans have more in common than we acknowledge. Each of us are in different places and different phases, but most of us are trying to make sense of our lives, past and present, and each of us has something we are trying to work out and heal within ourselves.
Grief, for all of its raw pain and turmoil, does teach us things about life. I don’t mean for that to sound casual or obvious because it is a process that happens differently for each person. It changes us and compels us to go within ourselves to either question, or search or reach out or it can put us in a place where we always are trying to get our bearings about what happened. Or in some cases I have seen people completely put grief in an emotional box and bury it deep within themselves never to be opened.
This past Saturday I was sitting in the hair salon with what felt like a half a roll of aluminum foil strips and a bowl of hair dye on my scalp, casually reading a magazine and not thinking about anything in particular.
All around me I could hear the usual hair salon conversations, snippets of of conversations involving boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives, fights, making up, diets that people are trying, diets you shouldn’t try, hot restaurants or drinks and of course, hair: should it be shorter, longer, layered or colored.
But then above the fray of people babbling, the whir of the blow dryers, and the pop music bopping, I heard a man talking loudly to his stylist. He was laying on his back in his flexible black chair, his head resting in the sink, with the water running as his stylist shampooed his hair.
“Well, I’m always trying to figure things out. I say my prayers at night. I’m not a traditional Christian person. I try to be a good person but I have questions. You know what I mean?”
At this point, I looked up from my magazine to see who this guy was because I could relate to what he was saying but I was also surprised by the honesty of his remarks in this particular setting.
He looked to be in his 50’s with white hair. He reminded me of the singer Michael McDonald. While most of the other conversations around him were of a gossipy nature, this guy didn’t hesitant about baring his soul and didn’t seem worried if everyone could hear him. I wasn’t eavesdropping. In fact, I looked at his stylist to see if she was making faces at him to lower his voice but she kept shampooing away, nodding and agreeing with his thoughts.
He continued: “My mother died five days after I was born and I grew up without a mother and I don’t know why this happened to me. I spend a lot of time wondering about why my life is the way it is and I am always trying to put it together. Always trying to put the pieces together. Trying to figure out why.”
“Like I am always trying to figure out why this happened to me and why I am still here and my mother isn’t. And you know I’ve had two heart attacks and I’m still here and I keep trying to figure it out.”
At this point, I was called for my shampoo and unfortunately couldn’t listen anymore but his thoughts have stayed with me for I believe they reflect an inner quest for meaning that we all pursue and a need for others to hear our story.