From Curve Balls to Curls
I am not one to lament things from my past, but of late I have been feeling somewhat disappointed about my hair. I know, not life or death stuff, but I used to have lovely, long, thick, dark hair; three kids and several decades on, it is far from that, so much so, I decided it was time to have my long, rather tired looking hair cut to a styled bob. As I sat there in the hairdresser’s seat, my resigned, soggy-haired reflection looking back at me from the large, illuminated mirror, I sighed. It is what it is, I reminded myself, as Ranee, my amazing hairdresser, squirted mousse into her hands and rubbed it through my now shorter locks. “Right, head down,” she said as she grabbed the hair dryer with the big, weird, finger-like attachment, (like one I own but have never used for anything but back massaging), “I’m just going to do…this….” A few minutes later, she had me flick my head back and shake. And when I saw my reflection, I gasped. Literally, out loud.
“Where did those curls come from?!” I asked, absolutely astonished!
“That’s your natural curl,” she replied, smiling.
Whaaaaat?! I’d never had natural curl in my life! Just waves and kinks that needed to be dramatically permed, (mid-1990s, $175, and yes there are photos….so much regret!), or straightened to look half decent. I had no idea where these curls had magically appeared from, but the sadness and disappointment of the “what wasn’t” suddenly turned to some unexpected joy.
I learned two important lessons from this not-so-massive life-changing moment.
Firstly, not all changes are all bad, and there can be silver linings. Yes, my hair had thinned and changed over the years, (talk about silver linings!), but it now did this epic curly thing that I had desperately wanted as a teenager! And as I progress through life, I often do wonder about where I am at, the choices I, or others, made, and how they have affected where I am, compared to where I always imagined I would be. As I ponder these things, I am led to the conclusion that in all things, I must look for the curls in the curve balls, the good things that perhaps might never have happened, had the balls been straighter.
Secondly, I realised we often need someone else to help us discover hidden qualities or talents about ourselves. Ranee is an expert at her job; she knows what to look for and how to bring out the best qualities in my hair…so, who else in my life can see things in me that I just can’t? I am one of those intense kinds of people who focuses on the things I need to change from, or worse, the things I feel I cannot change about myself. But what would happen if I started to surround myself with – and listen to – people who could speak into my life the positives:
“Yes, you talk a lot Helen, but my goodness, you can make anyone in the room feel welcome and important.”
“No, you’re not working at this point of your life, but you give back when you can by way of x, y and z.”
If I’ve learned anything from life, it’s to not take anything for granted. Things won’t stay the same, mostly, and at times we may feel overwhelmed with the emotion of those changes, especially big/sad moments; if Solomon, the wisest man in the history of the world can feel overwhelmed, sad and a bit lost in life, and have an entire chapter of the Old Testament devoted to his thoughts on the topic, it’s a pretty safe assumption that we, too, will need to face the feelings of loss, regret and the whimsy of “what if,” and “if only.”
Life is hard sometimes. But it is still good and beautiful and worth embracing with all we have. I am learning to listen to my soul, the part of me I believe is inextricably entwined with God, which calls to me through the tangle of fresh disappointments to long-nursed ones, sporadically reminding me, “it’s time to sit at the table with the hard unknowns, Helen, the “what if’s” and “if only’s” until you can cut the ties that bind your heart and your perspective, and let them go.”
Thank you, soul. And thank you, God, for turning curve balls into curls.
Helen Carr is a writer, photographer and mum of three. You can find her anywhere where there is coffee being served and a beach nearby.