I’ve been thinking a lot about joy (and the lack of it) lately. In some ways, 2021 has felt harder than 2020. And yet . . .
August 13, 2021 was a clear Friday night and not too freezing, which is rare in San Francisco. I was at Oracle Park. The Giants had just beaten the Rockies 5-4. It was Fireworks Night. The stadium lights were turned off, the DJ amped up the music and thousands of us watched gorgeous fireworks light up the clear night sky. I sat there feeling as carefree and happy as a child, immersed in the gorgeous spectacle. When BTS’s Dynamite played over the biggest bursts of fireworks I felt transcendent, my soul filling with essential nutrients that have been absent for far too long.
Here are some excerpts from my essay Surprised by the Joy of White Hair:
In September 2020, I walked into my colorist’s tiny salon filled with equal parts anticipation and relief. I’d been growing out my roots for six months. I was going to walk out of the salon with platinum white hair.
First came the haircut. My stylist removed several inches of old, dry, formerly dyed hair. Within minutes, a white curl that looked like the crest of a wave popped up on top of my forehead. My hair was as exuberant as I was.
After the cut I sat in my colorist’s chair for highlights, because if I was going to have white hair, I wanted it to look deliberate, smashing, purposeful. I’m still vain!
When the foils were removed and my hair was washed and dried, I looked in the mirror and could hear Lizzo singing: “If I’m shining everybody’s gonna shine.”
I left the salon with a shock of platinum silver hair that mellowed into salt and pepper in the back. I felt enlightened, brightened. When I went for headshots shortly afterwards, I felt something surprising, something unnatural. I felt delighted.
A light started to glow inside me. I let it loose. For the first time, I blossomed in front of a camera. I didn’t expect that bright white hair would give me the power to joyfully redefine “beauty”, to inhabit it on my own terms, to make me feel exuberantly free. I didn’t expect white hair to teach me how to celebrate all that I am. But it did. And now I do.
Now that the Delta variant has taken over so much of the world and fires and hurricanes and floods are ravaging both sides of the country, I keep trying to recreate moments of joy. I relish my white hair and wear bright silver earrings and red lipstick whenever I can. I listen to (and watch) BTS non-stop. Their perfect pop sound helps me find that elusive but absolutely necessary simple joy.
I’m embracing any and every joy delivery vehicle I can find. How else can a person get through these crazy times? I hope you find and throw yourself into whatever brings you joy too!