Mandan News

Brian L. Gray: Hair and other things I can’t control

Brian L. GrayLiving with hair like mine is like being in an abusive relationship. Each day I have no idea what I’ll be getting, it’s always a surprise how it will act. It does only whatever it wants, and there’s nothing I can do about it. No matter what I do to try and change it, it never listens. It doesn’t even consider a compromise. It doesn’t care what I want. I have no control over it. It controls me.

I’d go more into it, but it’s really complicated.

I’ve often thought about cutting it out of my life entirely, but then I contrive reasons not to. The other day, while looking in the mirror at my chaotic whirls of crimson locks, I found myself saying, “Well, I can live with this. My curls are like the waves of the ocean, and I love the ocean.” That’s when it struck me that I was a victim in this situation, and I was coming up with my own ways to justify and deal with it. And anyone on those afternoon talk shows will tell you, that’s no way to live. I was living in denial.

The truth is, most days my hair isn’t similar to an ocean. It’s more likened to a hurricane. It makes me wonder if the makeup of one’s hair changes over time, because I’ve been trying to grow mine out, but it hasn’t been growing the way it used to.

So I bolstered all my courage and I finally did it. I cut my hair, extracted this bad force out of my life, and started over. And since then, my days have been free of drama and unpleasant surprises.

I’m in my 30s and I still haven’t settled on “a look.” I’m constantly changing it. I have visions that in 20 years I’ll be one of those middle aged guys who think they can pull off a soul patch, and no one over 40 should have a soul patch. And not being able to find a permanent look aggravates me because some days it feels like my hair is the only thing that I can control.

I keep my life strictly organized, because I need things in order. To better illustrate, you don’t have to look any further than my personal collections. My records, CDs and DVDs are all in alphabetical order, my books are all listed by genre and by author’s last name.

My bedroom is another example of my need for structure. I even keep all of my writing divided into separate files. In fact, once this column prints, I will be cutting it out of the paper and scanning a copy of it so I can add it to my folder, labeled “News and Columns.”

This is my way of controlling what I can, as a way of coming to terms with the things I can’t. Call it OCD, call it self-controlling, call it crazy. I call it taking control of the one thing in this world I’m able to control – my life.

I don’t feel I need to get too much into it, because anyone who lives above rocks has noticed that the ability for people to find compromise with others different from them has been a rare sight lately, which I find to be dishearteningly sad. It seems these past years it’s been spiraling even more and more out of control. We see it most clearly in our political world, mainly because we’ve grown accustomed to politicizing every issue we face. Many of us are stuck in our ways, and seem well versed at expressing what we believe but unwilling to allow other sides to exist alongside us.

Seeing this bickering bipartisanship taking place personally drives me to fine tuning the things in this world I know for certain I can control. Because at the end of the day you simply have to accept the things you can’t control, while ultimately try to find ways to make all sides function alongside each other. It’s the only way we find peace.

I’ve eventually begun to let my hair back into my life again. Bit by bit I’ve gradually let it return. It hasn’t been easy, of course, but I’ll admit it’s been somewhat pleasant starting over. It’s almost been like dealing with something completely new, and these days I haven’t been worrying so much about what it’s capable of doing as I used to. It’s hard to confess this, but things so far have been okay.

And sometimes, I suppose that’s all you can really ask for.