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Thursday, March 8, 2012


With as presumptuous a title as that there are many places this could go. It could plumb the depths of my spiritual, intellectual and moral growth. It could talk about the effects that long, lonely walks have had on me, let you know about the quiet whirring of my subconscious mind, the part that doesn’t have to tell me what I think but just lets me know that I have decided. It could be about how all you have to think about are the big things in life; love, happiness, family and that from these  trains of thought carriages about politics and understandings of the human nature develop.

Well, one of my favourite biblical passages, (right now I think it’s the most important but that changes from day to month to year to me almost not remembering it at all) right now is that passage in exodus where Moses encounters a burning bush and starts to hear things(would anyone be offended if i mentioned that though its quite clear it not this episode could be misinterpreted as a metaphor for marijuana?.) the true metaphor, the more important metaphor comes later. Moses takes off his sandals in the presence of God and asks him a simple question. the simplest and most complex of questions

He asks, “Who are you?” God gives him the most beautifully complete answer you can imagine.

“I am who I am.”

And in those 5 words religion gifts us happiness. It gives us peace, joy and supreme knowledge. Those 5 words are all you need to keep your compass steady, to find your true north. That’s it. Just accept who you are.

“I am who I am.”

Yeah this post could go off on this serious note and explore the deep thinkological (I made up this word because philosophical implies something abstract usually and am not philosophising, just thinking) nature of those 5 words. But…

As I found out after years of wondering why Kenyan girls thought it was ok to share with me that they had fungi on their heads... growth also just mean that your hair has grown.

So, my hair has grown. It’s been a while since I let my hair grow. A month in I’ll cut off my hair I’ll keep it short and neat. Because I can’t do one without the other. Here’s the thing about my hair, it’s hard, its rock hard, its steel wool hard and after a while running a comb through it becomes just too difficult an attempt for the shoddy prize of good grooming. But I like to look good (who doesn’t and it’s not vanity I am who I am) so I just cut it off and keep it short.

It’s not bad looking hair understand. It’s dark and strong. It’s lustrous in the way that  men’s hair can be lustrous. At 55 my father still has a full head of hair, he looks young and completely youthful the mane of a thirty year old, well one who does not have a bald spot. His mother has her hair at 70 something am not sure what age exactly because she predated mandatory birth certificates. It’s long and hard, it has a streak of white running through it but its the streaks that denote steel more than age. This is not an invitation for all the girls who want children with nice hair to go off looking for my brothers (not enough Norwegian hits on this blog to make this an advertisement for myself yet.) it’s just my way of saying I like my head of hair.

I like the way it comes forward and gives me the opposite of a bald spot, almost a threehead if I let it get away without being trimmed. But since I can’t keep it neat and I like to look good I shave it off.

Enter this black man in Norway, moi. You know what's really different, our hair. Ours curls, theirs is straight, it grows like a cloud, that one falls like water. so no one will know that my hair is supposed to look neat ergo I’ll still look good even with shaggy hair though the evidence of recent dry spell may prove this point moot(ok it’s just a little bit of an ad.)

So i  let it grow, I have growth. 2 months’ worth on my head now. I wake up I don’t comb it I just go off to the office and sit there and work like this is how it’s supposed to look(this is not something you can get away with in Kenya.) and then I start to play with it.'

This is the real reason why my hair is so shaggy. You see am a run my hand through my hair kind of guy. I don’t know why I picked up this habit but I like it. It makes me look thoughtful, sometimes sad and sometimes vulnerable (or so I think but with evidence of recent dry spell…) this is ok when the hair is short, I’ll do this and get back to work. however hair grow longer at first I like how it feels, its soft and seems to match the grooves of my palms, my fingers feel happy there.

Then I start to play with it. I twist it and curl it in an unending game of bend your will to me. I run my hands through it again and again, I find the little standalone trees and tweak them. I watch the hair fall in floods of deforestation onto my books and computer, littering the whole world with my DNA. And always I twist it.

I twist it and twirl like there’s someone in the vicinity I like, I make tiny little dreadlocks, micro dreads my little fears I call them. I straighten them out and remake them then I forget to straighten them out and they just sit there all curled up together the strands woven like a loom and when I have to get a comb through them they wail with the sound of sweet freedom. This is all I do all day, all waking night. I sit with my hands in my head. my fingers in my hair making snares.

Then my biceps begin to ache. They ache and ache with the pain of always being at that stressed position they have to be in in order to parley with my hair. They scream out in frustration and I heed their call and I take my hands away from my hair. But am addicted so my hands find their way back. And this process goes on and on and on. Scream relief, release and scream.

I can’t stop myself this i now know. And now there’s the pain that comes when I have to comb it and even worse the pain in my biceps that will not go away. As the hair gets longer the strands are more available for tighter weaving and now it hurts to take them apart but I feel like I like this pain or find it necessary or just can’t stop and so there I am tearing the weave apart bringing doom to the loom and my biceps ache, my muscles quake.

There is only one release. I have to shave the hair off. It is in these moments that I remember why I shave my hair off. I don’t like this pain, it’s too much and I can’t stop myself, I try and I can’t I really can’t and I hate it. Shaving is my saviour. I always think it will be different, I think I will change myself next time and stop this touching, twisting and running but it never is and the reason I think it will be different is because I forget those eternal words. The immutable, immortal proclamation that I should make every day…

“I am who I am.”

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