On my twenty first birthday, I received an inordinate amount of advice. While being at a function for the better part of the day might have made me more accessible, I didn’t expect the people around me to be as free and willing to share their nuggets of wisdom. Am I the only who didn’t know about the twenty first key? Besides this new finding, I was particularly fascinated by one piece of advice I got from someone who’s unknowingly made a significant contribution to my life. She didn’t say much but she emphasised that no matter what season I was in, I had to remember to comb my hair. She continued to explain that it was important for me to continue to be presentable in the year(s) that followed.
At first, I didn’t understand why that was the piece of advice that she chose for me. Anyone who knows me, or is even remotely observant, can tell that I enjoy putting effort into how I look and possibly more-so when I am going through something. I shelved it somewhere not at the back of my mind just somewhere close enough for me to reach for when I figured it out. Not too long after this, I had a number of experiences where I thought this advice would be something that would come in handy but adjusted as normal. I continued to look my best even if my situation was far from this. At this point, I decided not to seek out its importance or meaning anymore.
A few months later, I experienced what I believe to be the loss of my life. Suddenly, and only in retrospect, I realized how much this advice mattered. Being me and what constituted that sense of normalcy which included showing up and showing up well, felt so far out of reach. ‘Continue to comb your hair’ became the most profound and necessary reminder in an instant. In a literal sense, showering, eating, combing my hair, speaking, all these essential components of ‘humaning’ became such daunting tasks. In the more abstract sense though, it reminded me to breathe. Breathing as a continuation of the normalcy that was so far from my reality. For me, and many other people I believe, overwhelming emotions make it difficult to center and ground yourself. And so when I say breathe I mean pause and be intentional about it, I mean returning to the moment, feeling and releasing the emotions.
While I didn’t expect this to segue into a conversation on the current pandemic, it applies. In these uncertain times we’re living in, I believe this initially strange piece of advice still holds water. Whether continue to comb your hair means return to your normalcy or breathe or both, this is you gentle nudge to keep at it. For me, in this time, its meaning has evolved and will continue to. It is my cue to remember: What was normalcy before now? What has it been in the past? What do I want it to be moving forward? As a friend beautifully put it,’…remembering as in coming back to ourselves, reconnecting with parts of ourselves that we’d neglected or abandoned. Re-member‘.
With this open time
You do not have to write the next bestselling novel
You do not have to get in the best shape of your life
You do not have to start that podcast
What you can do instead is observe this pause as an opportunity
The same systems we see crumbling in society are being called to crumble in each of us individually
The systems that taught us we are machines
that live to produce & we are disposable if we are not doing so
The systems that taught us monetary gain takes priority over humanity
The systems that create our insecurities then capitalize off of them
What if we became curious with this free time,
& Had no agenda other than to experience being?
What if you created art for the sake of creating?
What if you allowed yourself to rest & cry & laugh
& play & get curious about whatever arises in you?
What if our true purpose is in this space?
As if mother earth is saying: we can no longer carry on this way. The time is now- I am reminding you who you are. Will you remember?
– Emma Zeck
For the believers, Easter weekend is a perfect time to go into you reflection and remembrance. Ramadan isn’t too far off either and generally, for everyone, our current world situation gives us a chance to continue to do or not do whatever your normal is: ‘to comb your hair’.
God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another
1 Peter 4:10
Be Kind and Have Courage,