Thursday, September 24, 2015

Hair Cut? I Got Them All Cut!

I got a hair cut last week. On a recommendation from an AVODAH alumna, I went to the AVEDA teaching institute to get a low-cost cut from a student. When you check-in, they make you sign a waiver saying you won't cause a fuss if there is suffering or damages.

I expected a mediocre haircut, in-and-out in an hour. I knew it would take longer because I had a student, but I thought an hour was plenty of time to cut my hair.  This was not the case.

First, I had a chat with my stylist about my current hair routine where she reviewed the AVEDA products with them. Next, she had to check-in with her teacher to make sure that she was ready to cut my hair. After deciding on products, she washed my hair, cut it, and got instructor approval. All of this did not take too long. But then came the styling. Oh, the styling.  I got the blow-out to end all blow outs.  She blow-dried, curled, sprayed, pulled, and poked at my hair. She styled my hair tiny section, by tiny section. When the stylist was finished with me, my usually straight, curl-less hair looked like I'd just walked out of the 70s. I'm talking like Farah Fawcett hair. After all this, everyone was packing up and going home, but she still needed to do my make-up demo for my AVEDA experience to be complete. So that by the time I walked out two hours later, I felt ready to go take my "glamour shots."

To be clear, she did a great job, and I looked fabulous by the end of it, but I was trying to get home to eat dinner and go to bed, so while I love a good pampering, I had other priorities. Once she started though, I didn't feel like I could ask her to stop.

Before and After 

That said, as I watched other women enter and leave with much less fanfare, some with wet-hair even, I was reminded of a story my father used to tell about a man and his haircut.*
One cold night Beryl and Rivke Yancovic were in their bed sleeping. Suddenly, their door was blown open by a gust of wind. It kept banging open and closed, with a deafening clatter. 
"Didn't you lock the door?" Beryl asked his wife.
"No," she answered.
"Go and close the door"
"Why should I? You close it!"
Beryl replied, "Because I said, 'Go and close the door.' When I say something I keep my word."
"I'm your wife. If you're a man who keeps his word, I must be worthy of you, and I have to keep my word, too. I said, 'You go and close the door,' so you have to do it." 
"Well," answered Beryl, "I like your stubbornness. You're a fit wife for an honest man like me. Therefore, the situation is complicated. I can't shut the door because I gave my word not to, and I can't tarnish my reputation. I can't make you lock it because you're my wife and you must also keep your word.  Let's agree that whomever speaks first must close the door." 
The rain turned to snow, the wind into a hurricane. The window kept banging and the house became quite cold. Beryl and Rivke were shivering in their bed and neither could sleep. Still, neither of them closed the door. 
Before dawn, the storm quieted a bit, and two thieves went out to see what they could pick up. When they passed Beryl's house and saw the open door, they entered. Beryl and Rivke heard voices. 
While Rivke and Beryl shivered in their beds, too cold and scared to confront the thieves, the two robbers cleaned out the house. The next morning, Beryl and Rivke found their house empty of everything, but the furniture.  
When Rivke saw there was not even food for breakfast, she left to go to the store and walk around the town while Beryl stayed home and sulked.
Things hadn't turned out right, His wife had not closed the door, the thieves had taken everything. 
Now, in those days, barbers did not have shops, but they went from house to house looking for work. A passing barber noticed the open door and wandered in. He looked in and saw Beryl sitting on a chair deep in thought. 
"You know, Beryl," the barber said, "you need a haircut badly. Shall I cut your hair?" 
 Beryl did not answer. Well, in that town, silence meant consent. So the barber spread his tools on a table, removed Beryl's hat and began to cut his hair. He trimmed and sang merrily, and after a while, asked, "Well, Beryl, how do you like it? I think I did a good job!" 
Beryl was boiling with anger. He didn't want a haircut! But, of course, he couldn't answer, for he would have to closed the door. He grunted, but did not speak. 
"Well," said the barber. "I think you look great, but I think you'd look better with a closer trim! What do you think?"
Beryl said nothing. So the barber enthusiastically continued to cut and chat, cut and chat. Beryl became angrier and angrier, but not a word escaped his lips.
So the barber cut and cut and trimmed and tripped, until Beryl resembled a shorn sheep.
"Do you like the haircut now?"
Well, what could Beryl do? He couldn't say that he didn't need a haircut, didn't want a haircut, and looked ridiculous!
The barber looked at the silent Beryl and said, "You know, you do look really good right now, but I think you should just shave your head so that the hair will grow better! How about it?" 
When there was no answer, the barber soaped Beryl's head and shaved it clean. 
When the barber had shaved his head, Beryl was still quiet. The barber looked at him, and squinted one eye. "You know, Beryl, with a clean shaven head like this, your bear looks wild and bushy. I'll trim your beard!"
Beryl wanted to jump and scream, but he couldn't say anything!  
So the barber trimmed Beryl's beard. He stopped and asked whether it was enough, but Beryl did not answer and the barber contnued to cut and trim until all that was left was a tiny goatee. 
Then the barber turned to Beryl and said, "You owe me ten bucks, and I must say you got your money's worth. Pay me." 
Words cannot describer Beryl's anger, but what could he do? HE couldn't argue the price or else he'd have to close the door, so he sat in angry silence. 
The barber began to plead, "Beryl, I'm a poor man and I worked hard! Pay what's coming to me. Look how clean I shaved your head!" 
Beryl's face became red with rage, but he did not say a word. 
The barber became angry. He gathered his tools and erupted, "WAIT! I'll teach you a lesson, you stubborn silent donkey!" 
The barber went to the chimney, took some soot and covered Bery's face and head then stormed out of the house and did not close the door. 
When Rivke returned, she found her husband sitting o the chair, head shaven, beard gone, and his face black with soot. She forgot the agreement, dropped the groceries, and cried out
Beryl rose calmly from his chair, and yelled,  "LADY! YOU SPOKE FIRST. YOU CLOSE THE DOOR!"

Was this whole blog post just an excuse to tell one of my favorite stories from my childhood? Initially no, but actually, quite possibly.

There are some serious lessons to be gleaned thought. Looking back on my experience at AVEDA, I can't help but wonder if I had made my desires for a quick haircut heard, if I wouldn't have walked out with just what I wanted and nothing more.

During this AVODAH year, I have already learning the importance of voicing needs and desires. This is the way consensus decision making works, when we all participate fully and honestly about what we need.  It is easy to confuse a strong desire and a need, so we make sure to self-reflect.

Unlike Beryl in the story, people living in intentional living communities must exercise flexibility and  humility in order to serve the community. While we have a chore chart and accountability systems to make sure everyone participates equally, I try to not keep score and to do more than is asked of me when I am able. On the request of a house-mate, we try not to call our tasks chores; instead we call them contributions.

Honest communication, flexibility, and dampening the ego, are all steps to creating "everybody wins" situations. Before AVODAH, I'm not sure I really believed in those, but now, I believe that when we communicate effectively, allow for enough time, and have patience with each other, it is possible to create a living environment where everyone can be happy. But not just happy, a situation where everyone can feel like they "won" and got most (if not all) their needs and desires met.

This is something I actually want to devote an entire blog post to next week. The idea of "everybody wins" and how I've seen it play out thus far in AVOADH and how I hope to see it play out in the world around me, especially as it relates to my interfaith work.

Until then, loyal readers. ;)

*I copied then edited this story from Simon Solomon's story Go Close the Door printed in his book called More Stories of Chelm.

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