A new beginning, a fresh start, or, as I referred to it in an earlier post, a turning point – whatever you call it, it’s an idea that I tend to get lost in quite easily.
It was certainly at the top of my mind when I visited my barber towards the end of this last year. I’ve been letting my hair grow ever since I started work on Work-Life Balance. All through the bulk of writing that book – and Internal Damnation and Worlds Apart and “Down Into the Waters” – it’s gone from awkward mop top to sad combover to surprisingly pleasant top knot.
(A top knot, by the way, that has been immortalised, thanks to Ben’s rendition of me as a toyol in Work-Life Balance.)
Those projects are all out in the world now, so it felt like the right time to symbolically start the new year with a refreshed look.
I expected the haircut to be some kinda emotional moment for me – to be struck by the one-two gut punch of that new beginning or fresh start or turning point, and the impact of everything my longer hair represented. The final word of this chapter that I’ve spent the last few months bringing to a close. I didn’t think each strand would fall in slow motion and every snip of the scissors would echo loudly like the drums of war, of course. (I really didn’t, honest.) But I certainly expected something more than a quick shave of my sides and back… and just the one snip.
What I felt next really surprised me though, particularly as I looked back on that earlier post: nothing. No desire for that emotional moment I had been bracing myself for, no great sense of loss, regret or even confusion. Because, yeah, there’s no doubt that this year ahead’s a new beginning for me – but only in so much as anything can really be a new beginning.
This past December, I finished rereading The Sandman in its entirety. A line from the final issue of the main series jumped out at me: “… life is no play. We meet people once, and never see them again. There is no shape to events…” What the line meant to me, at the time, was that our lives aren’t episodic. While we can and should acknowledge beginnings and endings, placing unnecessary weight on them will only crush us with a load of expectations.
So, I’m not going to enter this year with an overly passionate intention of change. I’m just going to do what I can, be consciously aware of my journey – and, most important of all, try and enjoy it all.