(this was originally posted in May)
I was watching the beautiful movie ‘India’ and within the motion pictures I heard a whisper that was meant only for my third ear; “go and shave your hair”. After the movie ended I departed from my friends saying that I had to leave to do something and headed over to see Luke, my hairdresser. The last time I shaved my head, my body was 23 years old and I was living in a small ashram outside of Toronto.
At that time I asked my teacher, Swami Aruntiti, to shave my hair and she refused. I had long hair all the way down to my waist and she wasn’t sure I was ready to let go of it and deal with the consequences of carrying a bald female head. But I was stubborn and after a day I was sitting on a chair in the open fields as Aruntiti cut my long youthful hair and placed it in my hands. I remember how heavy it was. As I looked at the hair laying in my hands I had a clear sense that I was not this body. That was the turning point for the split personality of a young spiritual person that realized she was not her body yet living in a world with such an identification with physicality.
So there I was 21 years later carrying my long hair, still attached to my head, to Luke, a wonderful and spiritual being. I knew that the person that would have the tools to cut my hair (I mean scissors and a shaver) should have at least a bit of spirituality in him as my teacher Aruntiti had already disappeared into full seclusion somewhere in Europe many years ago. Luke was clearly the one but he was in extreme demand to the point where you needed to make an appointment with him weeks before you wanted to see him and I didn’t have one, and it was already 5pm.
Something inside me said don’t worry, keep moving what ever has to be done will be done.
When I arrived to the salon Luke was surprised to see me and when I asked if he was available he mentioned that he had just had an unexpected cancellation. Coincidence? I don’t believe in those anymore. When I told him that I would like him to shave my head he recoiled in horror. As he tried to make sense of the nonsense words rolling out of my lips, I repeated myself again. In the next few minutes the small but elegant salon went through a small invisible earthquake. The word of the sacrilegious act I had requested was like a brush fire through a dry savannah.
I was asked to sleep on it, maybe even go home and come back in 6 months after giving the crazy idea some good thought. “But it is just hair”, I kept saying, “and I would like to let go of it now.”
It took some convincing on my part but after a while my long, thick hair began to fall to the floor as I heard Danny, Luke’s partner in crime, mumble “I don’t believe she is doing it. I don’t believe she is doing it” as if I were just about to commit an elegant suicide. I looked at the mirror thinking; “I lost my face”, but inside, I felt the same.
A few women gathered around me as if at a wake looking at me with bewilderment as though a new alien species had landed in the heart of the city.
The sense of freedom was tremendous; no more hiding behind the veil of my physical appearance. I am what I am, straight forward. It is what it is and it feels great, light and empty of meaning.
“Oh my god!” I heard my students, my teachers, my neighbors, my friends, my sister and people that I am not even sure I know, saying as they looked at me, with mesmerized eyes.
“Are you Ok?”
“Are you sick?”
“Are you doing Chemo?”,some asked with concern.
“You are so brave”, they announced as though I had just come back from a rough battle where I lost my look.
“I would never be able to do it…”
“I am not ready to do it yet…”
“I am still attached to my hair…”, some of them apologized as if they were expected to join my hairless new army.
For a while it was great to touch my naked skull. Now clearly I could feel the lovely box I was dwelling in, my precious temple, my naked frame.
If in my youth just changing my hair style gave me the feeling that I, myself had changed, now nothing felt different in my essence as it could not be touched.
“Why did you do it?”, was the question of the week.
This was my way to welcome the process of aging that has started to breeze into my body for quite awhile.
This is the freedom of “being” beyond the eyes that are looking at me.