I have always detested having my hair cut. It seems such a bloody waste of time and besides, I really don’t like looking at myself in a mirror for 30 to 40 minutes. For this reason, I always tend to leave it a bit longer than I should.
However, this morning I had my haircut. I go to an old fashioned barber’s shop in Prague where they really do a good job, use old fashioned blades and you get a good head massage as well. Of course, I had to look at myself sitting facing that mirror.
Perhaps it was the background music – a mix of seventies and eighties classics like Meatloaf and Patti Smith. Perhaps it was just my mood and state of mind right now. Who knows? But, as I looked at that face I began to see the wrinkles, the deep set lines, the beginnings of the sagging jowls and the greying hair. The contrast with my young hairdresser didn’t help. In his twenties, his skin still had that tight, fresh and vital look of youth. I am aging.
This thought triggered a sort of dispassionate sadness. I can’t explain it better than that. A sort of recognition that there is no escape from this process of aging nor would I wish to except perhaps to go back and take another crack – another bite of the cherry – knowing what I know now.
I don’t yet look decrepit. Just a few weeks ago, in the darkness of a Prague pub, a group of people we were talking to put me in my early forties or late thirties. Nice of them but they were obviously drunk! I have never looked my age and didn’t even start shaving until well into my late teens (well early twenties!). I was a late developer and spent a few years embarrassed by my lack of progress when changing for school sports! Perhaps now that is paying dividends for I am a young looking mid fifties guy.
But that’s changing now and changing quite rapidly so – in front of my own eyes.
It makes you think looking at yourself in the mirror for any length of time. Each line, grey hair and wrinkle has its own story. The story of our lives right there, etched in our skin.
I still see myself in my mind’s eye as perhaps mid twenties to mid-thirties. Still vital and energetic. Still chomping at the bit for life’s experiences and somehow naive and woefully innocent. The thought crossed my mind leaving the barbers that it is this energy – this life force – that is slowly abandoning me. It is as if that force, sensing pastures new, is readying it’s goodbyes. Somehow, I need to focus on maintaining that life force and energy where it is at least a little while longer.
Sometimes thoughts keep coming back. Going round and round in circles for just yesterday I had watched David Bowie’s video of Thursday’s Child. It seemed to have a similar theme or thought and I am, in fact, a thursday’s child myself……