I’ve always been interested and obsessed with the kind of slow incremental growth that occurs in life.
The slow subtle changes that occupy our daily lives.
The building of a skyscraper is one thing, steel and glass jutting into the air with a fury of hammers and shouts. But the slow things growth of the plant life, or the daily crumbling of the road I ride my bike on every day is different. Each tire rotation sending a hunk of earth and asphalt up.
I have a slight confession. I’ve always hated my hair.
For nearly 20 years I’ve had the same haircut. Variations for sure, but the same variation of what it means to be male. Short on the sides short on the top, long hair in my younger years combed into a mop that hung on my head to hide my face from everyone around me.
The last time I sat in a barbershop chair was enough. Looking at myself in the mirror, I dodged questions about how little of a life I had. Trying to explain that what I really wanted was something simple that wouldn't draw too much attention to myself. My 25 year quest to blend into the background of my surroundings.
My cactus grows with that slow growth I love, it’s base shifts and turns in the Texas sun, roots spreading out in every direction, when the sun is hot and full you can feel it’s presence. Silent and strong, moving and shifting through its rocked layer. 2 years ago,or was it 3, it was a child, broken and bruised from an accident and fall. I tried to control its growth, trimming back its layers and methodically checking it. Grooming it’s image in whatever way made it look the most like the other cacti I saw.
My hair grew more than I thought it would. At first a lazy lack of interest guided me. The fear of being back in that chair, answering yet another round of questions about my boring life. Explaining yet again my same old haircut, with my same old style.
My partner has great long beautiful hair, healthy and flowing with streaks of blonde and gold. When she died the tips green it faded to a beautiful blue gray, a mysterious color that portrayed a vibe of confidence and insight. My hair at that time, laid flat on my head. No mystery or secrets, no color or confidence.
My cactus never wanted to be like the instagram cacti, it had a beautiful fake flower glued to its top. By the time it was home and replanted it had shed that layer. In another year it had split into two. Two separate yet identical bases existing beside each other.
I don't know exactly why I started growing my hair. Or at least why completely. I wanted to experience something else, some other style and idea. Some image that would connect me with how I feel more inside. I've always wanted to be more artistic, more distinct, and I've felt constrained by the inner desire to blend in to everything around me.
My hair flows down my shoulders now, an incremental growth that began to shape up my face. It's not pulled down in front but brushed and tucked behind my ears, curling down around my neck and framing my face in a collection of wild flowing hair.
It's hard to hide behind this hair.
Like my cactus I grow in the sun, shifting ever so slightly in the Texas heat, stretching my roots further down into Austin. I, like my cactus, have given up the dream of becoming an instagram star, of appearing in pictures and magazines as perfect. I've instead focused on the slow growth of myself, on the flowing hair that stretches down and blows in the wind.
My dream of being more "artistic" has been replaced with a dream of simply being. Of realizing the full force and weight of what it means to pursue yourself and your life without inhibition.
I don't know how long it will be until I cut my hair, how long it will take me to grow tired of the slow incremental growth and want to begin again. Like my cactus i'll be split, my hair will be chopped off and buzzed and from it i'll begin again.