It starts to feel like an obsession. It gets stronger every day. I search for images for just the right look. In the past, I’d scour hair magazines. More recently the internet. I chose a photo to bring to my stylist. The photo represents some new fantasy I’ve conjured up about myself. I know from experience the photo will never translate the fantasy into reality. I proceed anyway and get a very short haircut. I immediately regret it. Days and months of remorse follow.

I’ve tried to figure out this behavior many times. I’ve done it repeatedly and therefore it merits closer examination. Being the multidisciplinarian I am, this has been a wide-ranging exploration. There have been forays into psychoanalysis, anthropology, sociology, Greek mythology the Bible and literature. I remain mystified. My short term solution has been to instruct my stylist to refuse all future requests to cut my hair short.

I reflect and review my research. The word passion seems to re-appear and keeps catching on the hooks of my memories. Long hair and its feeling of freedom, sexual and otherwise has sometimes gotten me in trouble. When I have short hair life tends to feel a little less dangerous. Unfortunately boring and restrained. An unsatisfying attempt at self-regulation. The public performance of rebellion and submission with my hair as the main character.

My “Whatnowness” I’ve come to understand, is about discovering what passion means for me at this time of life. Letting myself have it whatever it turns out to be. Not being afraid of its intensity or its consequences. Owning it fully. No more giving it some lead and looseness and then jerking it back.

So I’m letting my hair grow. I’m letting it fall across my face. Look a little disheveled. Now wiser I hope, short bangs and side undercuts are the offerings I make to the gods of submission. This time my hair is white like a blank page. My hand itches to write on it.

What’s your hair story and what role does it play in your “Whatnowness”?