Hair. Humbleness. Hallelujah.

Write about hair.

March 1 prompt, “A Writer’s Book of Days”

Well, there’s Hair, the rock musical of the 1960s. A timeless classic of hippies in love beads, bell bottoms, flowy colorful Grateful Dead dresses and barefoot singing the virtues of free love, sex, Hare Krishna and the Age of Aquarius.

Well, they weren’t always clothed, to be honest. At some point in this rock classic of the psychedelic ’60s, the anti-war flower children got naked.

Back then, it was a radical move. Today, we can see endless selfies of Kim Kardashian naked. Barf. I could morph this into an exposé of culture, of how Americans no longer have shame, no longer value discretion or modesty or privacy but that’d be to sidetrack from the prompt.

Then there’s hair, that protein-based stuff found on heads and bodies. I’m about as non-girly as a girl can get! I’ve never worn makeup (well, except for Halloween costumes). The whole shaving legs & underarms — unnecessary and waste of time; a cultural dictate and “rule” of femininity (allegedly) that interest me not at all.

Don’t even get me started on heels, perfumes and nail polish! Barefoot, soap and biting my nails (a lifelong habit I struggle to break).

And beauty salons — since the topic IS hair — you can guess where I stand on that too! Have never had my hair professionally colored or straightened or permed (ditto pedicure or manicure). I’ve had it cut of course by professional cutters.

Then I’m about the basics.

Wash as long as there’s no extra charge.

Work with the waves and the thickness. No need to blow-dry — though they always insist! If blow-dry you must, then do NOT shape the hair with that curling brush! Let it be itself. Let it be.

I always begin a professional haircut by telling the cutter that I don’t do gels, mousse or any product. I’m lucky if I include conditioner in a regime! I’m wash-and-go.

I don’t own a blow-dryer; I don’t even own a brush any longer because now I keep my hair super-short. And I cut it myself with proper hair clippers. Some 14 bucks from K-Mart. I remember vividly when I bought them. From K-Mart in Tacoma, Washington. The darkest chapter of my entire adult life. When $14 was a LOT of money. A LOT.

I stood for a very long time at that shelf, studying the few clippers available, examining their differences, weighing their features. Weighing whether to spend the very little money I did have on clippers. They were an extravagance, to be sure. A luxury. Anything outside of food and paying the bills was a luxury. Even a cup of coffee was a luxury.

I remember many times of handing a dollar bill or two over to a barista and speaking silent prayers of gratitude that I had that money to spend on a cup of coffee in a cafe. It was a luxury. Those humbling experiences colored my external world in black and reshaped, and eventually lit, my inner world in ways profound, meaningful and enduring.

So it was with those clippers. After about 20 minutes of contemplating the cost, value and affordability, I decided to go ahead and purchase them.

Why in a time of such financial duress and stress?

Because I recognized that those clippers would pay for themselves after only one haircut. With even the cheapest cuts (think Supercuts) going for around $16 in Californicated Washington state, at every three months (I really stretched it out!), it’s expensive. The better choice, and smart one, was reasoned. It was clear.

And so it was with great mindfulness and appreciation for the money in my wallet that I purchased the cheapest hair clippers K-Mart had.

I still have them, some five years later. That won’t sound significant without knowing how many times I’ve moved across states with only what I can get in my Subaru and how much I’ve released than kept! Space is a premium. Waaaaay more things are cut than come-with! (Heck, I didn’t even have a bed for 3+ years but that’s another story.)

But those clippers — still in their original box and the thin plastic cape unused and still in its original wrap — have survived those cuts. No pun intended.

Since I’ve no plans (or desire) to return to the hassles of long thick wavy hair — hair with definite personality and mind of its own! — I’ll likely have those clippers until I die.

If the day comes that I no longer need them (i.e., am rendered unable to buzz myself), then I shall pass them on to someone who can use them. That’s how I am. I hate clutter, which includes things unused lying around. Stuff needs to be used and appreciated and valued — I truly believe that. And if not by me, then another. I truly believe that too.

Funny. When I began this post in response to the hair prompt, initially a whole other direction sprang to mind.; it too a worthy (and colorful) tale.

Yet because I let the writing take me where it wants and needs to flow (with prompts, the more I stay out of the way, the better), I discovered something.

I discovered how much those clippers mean to me. How much I value them to this day, years later and three intrastate moves and countless miles on the road later.

I discovered — or rather, was reminded — of a truth that for me is fundamental. When you’ve been truly poor, you never forget. Even if wealth and riches come your way thereafter, poverty shapes and affects the soul and mind and life view in lasting ways.

For some, impoverishment instills a chip on the shoulder. A sense of entitlement. Of going into the world and stealing and taking what is not yours and demanding and bullying because you feel entitled. “Look at what my parents … white man … society … world … {fill in the blank} didn’t give me!!”

My experience was (and is) far from that. Impoverishment leaves its scars. In my deepest darkest poorest years of lack, I cultivated a gratitude and humility and humbleness that I truly believe now, as I endeavor still to heal, would not have been possible had I not gone through the Valley of Darkness.

Those hair clippers are a memento. More importantly, they are a reminder of where I’ve been. They remind of humility and humbleness.

We’re each hair today and gone tomorrow. (Couldn’t resist.) Between today and gone, I’d like to pay it forward … to give because I received. I reckon one day I’ll have opportunity to cut the hair of someone who cannot afford a haircut. Perhaps a homeless person, perhaps a single mom so struggling that she cannot afford the “cheap” costs of the cuts-n-go shops.

I don’t know when or where. I just know that someday, somewhere, someone(s) will be able to partake of the clippers (with all the different-sized combs to boot!). It would be my pleasure and honor to be of service with humbling hair clippers that cost 14 blessed dollars at K-Mart.