White Haired Dude

Lately I’ve been noticing more and more white hairs showing up. At the same time, my hair’s been thinning at an increasing rate.

I’m only 30. I’m really not linking this.

Yesterday, after discovering a rather long, white hair hanging right at the top of my forehead I decided to take it, along with a few of its buddies scattered about my head, out with a pair of scissors.

Mission accomplished.

When I was a kid, I took more than a few blows to the head. Big ones. Doc informed me recently that this put me at pretty high risk of developing Alzheimer’s in the future, along with a slightly elevated risk of developing Parkinson’s. So while I don’t know yet how and when I’ll die, front-runners are starting to show up.

The effects of aging and how I react to them have very suddenly became more than just an intellectual exercise. 

Last night, I dreamt that my hair had grayed in a matter of days. It was as if the rest of my head was taking revenge for the treatment of those few hairs. In the dream, I came to the conclusion that these few hairs were somehow plugs in a dam, and by cutting them off I caused a deluge of white to spread all over my head, concentrated in the areas where the hair was located. This not only meant that I was getting old, it meant I was going through the sand in my hourglass far faster than anticipated.

I’m aging. I know it. I can fight its effects through exercise, diet and supplementation, but the fact remains that I’m aging. The idea is a hard one to embrace, but one which I must in order to continue growing as a person, overcoming adversities, and becoming what it is within me to achieve. I’m not one in the “live fast, die young, leave a beautiful corpse” camp. I’m in the “live as meaningfully as you possibly can, as long as you possibly can, weighing any risks to your longevity before taking action (or inaction) versus the possible returns, and when the time comes, make sure you’re in good enough shape to be successfully cryopreserved” camp. Not as catchy, I know, but I wasn’t about to stick it in any bumper stickers anyway.

Recently I’ve been trying to refocus. Long story short, my life was going in one direction then something hit which pushed it in another. Turns out things like that happen throughout your life. Who knew? Except everyone who has gone through it, I mean. For the past few years, I’ve been in limbo due to this. People in limbo don’t dream. They sort of fill their existence with things, hoping to find something, anything, to give them a direction. “Man without dreams shall perish.” This realization jarred me, so I started forcing myself to dream.

I’ve since moved to limbo’s edge; I can see how to get out.

First and foremost, I’m going back to college. Not necessarily to get any degree, mind you, but to learn for the sake of learning. (Pursuing an MFA has crossed my mind.) This is something I love doing, but which I’ve denied myself, much like when I denied myself the pleasure of a novel for 5 years. Lots of books, yes, but no novels. I’m still recovering from that.

Second, I think I’ll be joining some sort of sporting activity. Preferably, I’d learn some type of martial arts with forms–T’ai Ch’i, Quigong, and Kung Fu top my list–but something as simple as flag football would do. I walk every day and do resistance training for 30 minutes 4 times a week, but I need something which gets me around people, something which demands strategy, and preferably something which involves repetition. (It’s a brain plasticity thing.)

Third, I need to return to my music and leaning other languages. Both of these defined me in my youth. Both of these were things I intended to carry with me throughout my life. Both of these I’ve put aside as if they were childish things.

There’s more, but this is a start. I’m only 30. It won’t be that long before I say that I’m 60, but will I still be prefixing that with “only”? If so, will this be because I’m excited about my future and where I’m going, or because I’m still waiting for life to start?

One day, my head will probably be full (or half full) of white hairs. What will I be dreaming about then? Will I be defined by my dreams and actions, or will I just be another white haired dude?