“Almost cut my hair,
It happened just the other day,
It was getting kind of long,
I could have said it was in my way.
But I didn’t and I wonder why,
I feel like letting my freak flag fly,
And I feel like I owe it… to someone”
~Almost Cut My Hair by David Crosby.
I know many of you are familiar with this iconic song from 1970. For those of you who are not, it was a “hippie” classic about not selling out. At the time it was not uncommon for “long-haired freaks” to be seriously harassed by the police and authorities. Cutting your hair was selling out and mindlessly conforming to mainstream expectations.
Daily we are confronted with ambiguous opportunities and yes even pressures to “cut our hair.” The pressures are the covert societal and individual expectations to fit into the prepared sized template; buy the same foods, eat the same diet, dress this way, cast this vote, embrace this popular opinion, demonstrate this style of critical thinking…or you will pay the consequences…risk being on the outside and even ostracised. It’s not just your friends, co-workers, or family – it’s the institutions and streams of mass communications to Americans as well. The government, corporate marketing, the media, your church, the schools, our economic system…they are all established to encourage conformity. It does not take much thought, nor does it result in a lasting satisfaction. It does take living in a numbed state and a focus on comfort, convenience, and ease. No wonder so many of us are on anti-depressants, in too much debt, have superficial relationships, eat too much, drink too much, in a romantic relationship with someone who we have nothing in common with, or feel as if God has ditched us because our life has not turned out as I wanted.
It is easy to be tempted and to succumb. As a rule I do not frequent chain restaurants, particularly fast food joints. It is not only my health that I am concerned with, but I don’t believe in the way they source their product or serve their customers. The only people whose interest are being served are the stock holders. The animals from which the meat is sourced are treated inhumanely and your health is of little or no concern to these establishments. Never the less, one afternoon I was hungry, tired, and had important things to do other than cook. As I was passing the golden arches I thought “Well I could stop and get a salad, that’s not so bad”. Maybe not so bad for my health, but it violated my principles. That evening I cut my hair.
Now I could have beaten myself up over this. I could have but I didn’t. I felt bad for a few minutes, then thought to myself “I won’t do that again.”
I hope you don’t sell out. I hope you don’t cut your hair, but if you do, it will grow back. Be patient. Let it grow.
Zen Presence – Ideas for Meaningful Living