It started innocently enough. I had one every once in while. Gradually, it happened more often. But over the last year, there has been more and more and I am powerless to stop it. Gray hairs. At first, I could pluck or hide them. But now, on the eve of my 35th birthday (half way to 70!), they are relentless. Every time I look in the mirror, I see another one. There’s no hiding from them or the truth … I'm getting older.
So, what should I do? Should I wage war against the inevitable? Spend my time, energy and money on covering up years and experience? Do I allow this natural change to impact the way I see my self? Or do I surrender and search for contentment as I enter this new phase? Should I allow myself to revel in the life and experiences that have brought me this far? Can I be grateful for having so many days? For me, there are only two choices - loathing or rejoicing.
I recently read a quote from a woman who replied to yet another inquiry from her hair stylist about when she is going to color her hair by saying, “Hair color is not the question of my life.” I love this so much and it got me thinking about the question of my life. How do I want to live? What do I want to build the rest of my life around? This I know for sure - the answer to this question will not be found by hiding who I am.
For now, I choose to rejoice and give thanks for my grays. I choose to move towards contentment for what is, what came before and what’s to come. I am alive and healthy surrounded by love, support and encouragement. I have made it through struggles and hardships and came out shining. If I’m lucky, I will continue to grow old. If I’m fortunate, more and more gray hairs will pepper my head, my laugh lines will grow deeper and my worries about the external will fade lovingly into my internal light. The question of how I want to live my life can be answered simply – truthfully, bravely and kindly. And if that’s not an endorsement for embracing my graying hair, I don’t know what is.
I was walking through a crowded strip mall recently and saw a woman pulled over to the curb in need of help. She attempted to get passersby attention by saying, “Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me.” She needed directions and someone to help her get where she needed to go. And I thought, “Oh boy, lady – I hear you!”
I have been asking for directions most of my life. I have tried out many different roads and more than once found myself lost in strange, crowded places that just didn’t feel right. When I stopped to ask directions from anyone who might be able to help, it usually sounded something like this, “Excuse me, could I trouble you to tell me where I should go? I know I’m heading in the general direction of where I belong, but I keep getting turned around and I’m not quite sure I can get their on my own.”
A few years ago, I was at the intersection of “I’m just going to give up” and “What the heck am I doing with my life?!?” And right at that point, yoga found me and things started to change. The more I came to my mat, the more relief I felt. The more I took my meditation seat, the quieter my life became. Through my practice, I got better at listening to the barely audible directions being whispered to me. The more I listened, the better I understood where I was meant to be.
I still don’t know exactly where I belong, but I know I am very close. I am on the right road. My eyes, ears and heart are wide open and I’m careful to always be on the lookout for the signs leading to my next step. When I’m lost and confused, I still ask for direction. It's different now, though, because deep down I already know my way home.
Yoga teacher, life coach and recovering attorney; tireless supporter of authentic living, stubborn follower of dreams