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Monday, 24 August 2015

Resurrecting the Crone




Part One: The Decision (and how it met the business and the personal)


And with a gloomy sigh she uttered "Got to keep the Grey at bay" and my heart sank at the thought of another few decades of dying my hair. I had bumped into my Mum in town as she was rushing to make a hair appointment for yet another cut and colour.

That was early 2014 and became the day I vowed never again to dye my already Greying hair. I might have thought twice about this decision had I anticipated the deeply significant journey it would take me on.

There are sides to this transition you see; there’s the physical, what you look like; there’s the emotional, what you feel like; then there’s something that’s just out of vision. There’s this other thing which looks very much like the mental, how am I processing this, but isn’t quite as clinical. This ‘mental’ part is merely the operating system of a much richer and deeper transition that gives permission (if you embrace it) for the Crone to rise up in you and it is this part I hadn’t prepared for.

This is old learning; archetypal learning and has been an inner felt experience rather than a learned-from-a-book, or even a mentally processed experience. It has changed me and those around me and possesses a silent power I’ve rarely experienced.

In this Part One I’ll attempt to write a contemporary and honest portrayal of this potent transition, avoiding as far as I can, the excellent plethora of societal or cultural information already out there.

Where to start?

The beginning of the journey was tough. I was on the road a lot, doing a corporate job as a business trainer but right from the get-go, I decided to just dive in and be bold with the hair transition. Trying to hide Greying hair when you’re of Asian descent is impossible, so in true Taoist style, “it is what it is” and my Greying hair is gonna be in your face; that’s all I’ve got to work with.

My first distinct memory of becoming Grey was sitting in a business meeting, giving a presentation and noticing that the person I was addressing was doing the hairline stare. You know this, yes? It’s when someone is distracted by (or deliberately distracts you by looking directly at) your hairline. When I noticed him slyly glancing at my shimmering Greys, I played with his curiosity and deliberately ran my fingers through my hair, consciously shifting the parting to where I knew the most Grey was and ever so slightly tipping my head down to expose it to him. I literally felt the energy around us change and his reaction was to slightly recoil. Wow, what was that?

It felt kind of (insert word here), and I cannot grasp that word but it was definitely unfamiliar to me. The closest I could get to it at the time, when recounting this story to a friend, was that it felt visceral, like I’d held up a bloodied sanitary towel in a suited and booted business meeting as the mint imperials, lukewarm coffee and mineral water all looked on, agog.
Inherently this seemed wrong but there was something tangibly right about it. Something I couldn’t put my finger on that felt old and sensual and definitely not sanitised or bearing the approval of L’Oreal’s, “because I’m worth it” campaign!

I had playfully forced this guy to look at my ageing and in doing this I realised it had come over as an uncomfortable affront to the uninitiated and indeed, would later include my own family. When you force a person to look at age, you take away the comfort blanket of being able to turn away and face something prettier or more appealing. When you force a person to look at age do you hold up a mirror to their own mortality?

What was happening here? Why was I creating a stir? It’s just Grey hair, right?

Time for the Hairdresser

Jump forwards 6 months and I have between 5 and 6 inches of Grey coming through. It’s definitely a look and it’s also time to get drastic so I book an appointment with my hairdresser. She is 24, looks like a White woman’s Beyonce and is all about the look. I lead with the easy bit; “can you take it to shoulder length please?” My hair is really long at this point so she raises an eyebrow and makes sure I’m sure. She then offers me a colour – Opa! – There it is.

I explain that I’m going Grey, like it’s not an accident or something I have to apologise for and she finally gets it but she doesn’t understand it. Of course she doesn’t; I wouldn’t have at her age.

My sweetheart hairdresser and I embark upon a journey together for the next 6 months.

The hairline stares continue in the many meetings I attend and, as my rough cut bob grows out, I take to wearing my hair up........a lot. This was the messy phase where there isn’t enough Grey to convincingly look like anything other than I’ve stopped dying my hair. My topknot defiantly holding on to the last remnants of the many Auburn and Chocolate colours it had been invariably soaked in while the rest of the hair was gently beginning to shimmer against a canvas of dull Black. Two worlds and a definite tension in the dynamic that I was struggling to work with and when I say ‘I’, I mean my ego, my pride, my vanity or all three; I’m not sure.

‘Being less visible’ is what this phase felt like. In this phase I felt like I was being weighed up by blokes who habitually, when presented with an attractive face, do the primal first-glance-weigh-up of “would I?” vs “I wouldn’t”. I’ve noted this weighing up many times before but now it felt different; it felt like I was no longer an option to be considered because “younger, fitter, hotter must come first before I look at this” and “what would my mates think if I found this attractive?”

This is new. I’ve never been short of admiring glances but this was new. They seemed wary of me somehow but I still couldn’t put my finger on what exactly the shift was. I was however palpably aware that I was losing my sexual power and conversely aware that something new was growing which had a more powerful energy but which I didn’t yet have the manual (or permission) to operate. I was a novice Grey.

Part two coming soon - Tea with Dad 

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