Thursday, March 1, 2012

From the Gray Files

It's easy to confuse intuition and emotions, but let me give you a simple way to tell them apart:

Emotions are the perky impulses I have that tell me to get all the brown chopped out of my hair at tomorrow's haircut -- to go all Ellen Desgeneres after a particularly short cut. Intuition is the voice that lives somewhere near my sternum that tells me I'm not quite ready yet.

I might leave it up to my hairstylist but I don't know.

An older friend told me she knew women who took "several tries" to actually go gray. Good glory -- I'm only going through this once, I think. I haven't had second thoughts about letting my hair go gray. It feels like the very right thing to do, even though I wish I was less prematurely gray.

(A friend told me the other day, "Your hair is pewter-coloured." OK, prematurely pewter. Yeah, it is better.)

What I'm having a much harder time with is getting rid of the brown. Images of Rapunzel come into my head. I watched the Deepa Mehta film Water last week: in it, the beautiful widow who lives an almost cloistered life has her hair rudely chopped off by an older widow who wants to keep her younger counterpart from marrying a man who loves her beauty. I dreamed last night that my hair was similarly hacked off. And maybe tomorrow it will be.

I've always been the kind of person who, when I make a decision, bam, I try to make it so. Except as I've gotten older (yes, dear, I've earned this gray hairs with all my many years of experience) I've encountered situations that just don't call for a bam response. Situations that need to be approached organically, with a listening ear and a willingness to wait, even if the decision is clear. Like watching paint dry, letting one's hair grow out takes time, and it feels like, rightly so.

(The emotions pipe up at this point to remind me that I have always wanted to try super-short hair and that there would be no time like the present to attempt it -- and this is true also.)

It's only hair, I think. Maybe it's only hair.


  1. Hi Susan,
    I just now came across your blog because I happened to go into facebook (I only go when my email tells me there has been some activity among my friends)and I thorougly enjoyed your thoughts on going gray. When my hair first started graying (around age 50) I tried one color job, didn't like it, and am very happy to have gone gray right away. If you color it forever your face doesn't match your hair any more! Also it's not good for your hair or your head. Whatever happened to "grow old along with me, the best is yet to be . . ." I'm in my late sixties and loving it!

  2. Thanks Elfrieda. Great to hear from you. 50 seems like an age-appropriate time to go gray -- early 40s feels early, but oh well, here we go.