One of my more consistent habits is the habit of getting a haircut whenever the back and sides of my hair are getting a little shaggy . Since my hair tends to get a little unmanageable when it gets long, and since I have trouble sleeping when it gets too thick (which for most people would not be very thick at all), today was the day I chose to get a haircut. As is often the case when I go about on my ordinary errands, I found something worthy of deep and serious reflection. In fact, a rather routine trip to get my haircut became a much more intriguing and serious matter because of the interactions I had with complete strangers.
Before getting my haircut I had the opportunity to sit and observe the people around me. Both of the people who were in line ahead of me in the queue were two of the three energetic blond sons of a very loving couple who appeared to be in their 30’s. The brothers appeared to be very friendly with each other, and the father even helped watch one of the sons whose haircut was done while the mother did her mothering thing with the other boys, playing with him and showing him some cars in a magazine. It was a pleasure, albeit a somewhat melancholy one, to see siblings getting along and a loving father showing that he can help his wife handle some energetic boys in public without anyone being bothered and everyone having a good time while they get their haircuts.
As it happened, my haircut was given by a chatty fellow who told me that he was 48. As is often the case, barbers will often try to make conversation with the people they cut the hair of, even if those people are complete strangers (as was the case here). While often this conversation exists on a superficial level, or at least starts there, in this case the conversation quickly got into very serious territory, and not necessarily because I steered it there. At first, of course, the conversation was pretty superficial. The barber asked me what I had planned for New Year’s, and I replied that I didn’t have any plans except for not having to go to work. Then there was conversation about work, with some lighthearted comments about that, and then a conversation about college sports, a subject of some interest to me . The barber happened to be an alumnus of Fresno State, which was recently defeated by the University of Southern California, which I attended as an undergraduate. This sparked a lively conversation about the Mountain West Conference.
The conversation quickly got very serious, though. The barber seemed intrigued in my somewhat nomadic lifestyle, a matter of some personal concern, and when I mentioned that I had moved from Western Pennsylvania to Central Florida because my parents split up, he revealed that he had the same kind of childhood because of his folks splitting up when he was six, and commented that he had guessed that my moving around a lot was related to my family background, something that has often been the cause of painful reflection . He talked a fair amount about how he has sabotaged jobs and relationships though anxiety about staying put in one place for too long, a feeling of being trapped while looking for the next big thing, and a lack of ability to tough matters out because of a tendency to cut and run far too easily. He mentioned that even at his age he is just becoming aware of his behavior and how to avoid going too far when he recognizes the wrong kind of patterns.
It is a difficult matter to have a deep longing for roots and stability and progress and a seeming total inability to find those kinds of situations in life. What is necessary to find a good situation where there is growth and advancement in an organic fashion, a building of trust and sustainability while one achieves those goals and quests in life that are the most meaningful. Having been fairly nomadic over the course of my life, I want to find a place where I can achieve my deepest longings, even if I do not make such matters easy on myself. It’s good to know one is not alone in those struggles, but it’s a bit alarming that one’s tendencies can be somewhat obvious even to total strangers (albeit observant ones). I hope that my days of being a vagabond and a nomad and a stranger do not last forever, for what I want most out of life requires finding an honorable and stable place within enduring and loving relationships and institutions. I hope my longings may be satisfied at last, while there is time to enjoy them.
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