Thursday, March 5, 2009

Reset to Zero

I remember the first time I shaved my head. I was a freshman at a boarding school and my roommate had just finished shaving his head and suggested I do it too. A part of me wanted to fit in but another part wanted to do it for the thrill of doing something new. Any guy who has lived the dorm life knows what I'm talking about: cheap haircuts. A lot of guys in the dorm either buzzed or shaved their hair off completely not because it was a fad, but because it was cheap and easy. It's the "Ramen noodles" of haircuts, and if you don't understand the analogy then you've never lived in a dorm.

Except for a few occasions I have been shaving my head every 7-9 months for the last decade. At first I did it because it saved me money and it feels so good to shave all that hair off. (Oh by the way, I have a thick curly head of hair that grows back at an astronomical rate.) By my junior year it become a ritual I privately called, Reset to Zero. The title is a tad lame but the ritual became a point where I hit the reset button in my life and began again with a clean slate. I guess it's similar in spirit to the New Year's Resolution where people commit to reforming themselves in some shape or form. Every time I or someone else took clippers to my long curls I would think about what actions, thoughts, or attitudes I would seek to improve from the last few months. As the clippers buzzed away I would envision them taking any negative traits I may have acquired in the past few months with them as they fell. I tried to keep from developing any new bad habits but if I did I would renounce them at my next shaving. By my senior year I would speak very little for the week after I shaved my head as I spent time reflecting and meditating on past events and future plans.

My mother always hated when I'd come home on leave with a shaved head. She always wanted me to get a nice short haircut whenever I came home, but I always seem to ruin her plans ahead of time. Now that I'm married to my wonderful wife, I've found out that she's not too fond of it either. About 2-3 months after I shave my head is when she says my hair is the perfect length. Any longer and my wife grumbles about my hair being too shabby. That's another thing I forgot to mention, I grow my hair out as long as possible (my wife sets the limit now) before cutting it as long as it's not freezing outside.

Some may ask why wait, why use a silly ritual to purify yourself and work towards being a better person on a daily basis? When's the last time you have kept a New Year's resolution all year long? Let's face it, we love our comfort zone and getting off the couch to do a few push-ups is right above waiting in line at the DMV. My ritual head shaving is a time for personal contemplation and renewal; though crude, it isn't that much different than baptism, ablution (in Islam), or ritual purification in a tsukubai in Japanese Buddhism. I'm not equating my haircut to the same level as these spiritual forms of purification, but this is how I purify myself, not of sin, but of sinful actions, thoughts, and attitudes by resetting to zero.

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