Saturday, April 30, 2016

Hair unfettered

One of the three basic facts of all existence, according to the Buddha, is impermanence, aka change. Hence, as philosophically as I am able, I must accept that my longtime hairstylist Jeff Carlson has decided to unfetter himself from his job at the hair salon for wider adventures and world travel.

Less philosophically, allow me to say, this sucks for several reasons.

1. Jeff's half my age, so I always felt young around him.

2. He has an exceptional eye for hair, and hair color, which invariably made me happy -- and gained me compliments.

3. He makes me laugh.

4. Now I have to look for a new stylist. I haven't had to do that since 2010. It's a total bummer.

5. Jeff and I have been through a lot together.

Wait, am I speaking metaphorically here? Yes and no. Indeed, I'm talking about real tangible things, like shampoos and colors and lengths. But I'm also talking about impermanence of this life.

The first year I started with Jeff, my son was in his second year at University of Washington. Jeff is around my son's same age. At an early visit, Jeff asked how college was working out for my son. I noted my son's lack of income compounded by a great outflow of expense in tuition and housing, which made it all a bit challenging. Jeff said that's a big reason why he'd decided  to go a different route. He had no interest in amassing debts for a higher education. When his peers were graduating from college, he intended to be living well, debt free. Touché, I remember thinking.

Several years later, Jeff was in a position to look for a house in the Seattle area. But every couple of months when I went back for another appointment, the news wasn't good. Home prices in Seattle are sky high, and anything at a more reasonable price had bidding wars. Eventually, his thoughts shifted.

"I thought it would be a good idea, you know, get a house, stop paying exorbitant rent all the time. Now I'm kinda glad it didn't work out. I have so much more freedom."

Blacksmithing hair
Book launch hair
Meanwhile, life milestones came and went for me. Both my children graduated from college, I took a blacksmithing class and published my first book. I traveled internationally.

Jeff did too. He traveled to India with Aveda, and started mountain climbing in local ranges, then broadened his adventures to hiking and climbing in Iceland, Norway, France, Hawaii and other gorgeous spots around the world. The Instagram pics he shares @jeffreymichaelcarlson are stunning. Surreptitiously, I've  followed along, realizing somewhere along the line that one might consider Jeff's university to be, well, the universe.

These experiences have led to his choice to move on. Our most recent conversation (during my final cut and color) had to do with Eastern philosophy, with acknowledging the preciousness of life and making the most of it. Which led me to thinking about the impermanence of life, and the Buddhist philosophy of zen. One tenet of the monk Takuan Sōhō of the Rinzai Sect is especially intriguing. In The Unfettered Mind, Sōhō speaks of:

The interval into which not even a hair can be entered:

Our mind must become like a ball that rides a swiftly moving current, a ball like this does not stop anywhere. We must allow our mind to maintain momentum in this manner.

The interval in which even a hair cannot be entered may be interpreted as one acting instinctively in a manner that is true to one’s nature.

Could it be, Jeff has entered that interval? I'd like to think so.