• Brenda Kress

Ask Like a Child

The young boy reached out to me and placed my hands over his ears. As we locked eyes, I could hear his thoughts. This is what he said, “I am deaf, but you won’t know that by looking at me. With other things, like blindness or being wheelchair bound, you can tell there is a difference. But with me, you won’t know that until we actually begin talking to each other. And in fact, you could say something to me and if I’m not facing you, and can’t read your lips, you might think I am ignoring you.”

This was in a dream I had. (By the way, super cool dream that also had the waters of Greece, huge whales and an airplane in it – more about that another time!) Yet, it really got me thinking about a lot of things.

While drying my hair, I thought about the purple I have dyed into it. People will notice it and

Enjoying purple hair at my son's restaurant, Husick's (shameless plug)

say they like it. Or, as one older gentleman whom I adore said, “Only twelve-year old girls dye their hair purple”. To which I shot back, “And fifty-six year old women”. Bless him, he did laugh. The best comment I ever got was in a store where a women, who had to be in her nineties, said, “I’ve always wanted to do that. Good for you!”.

Yet, very few know why I dye until we actually talk to each other. They may have their thoughts about it and have formed their own conclusions (i.e. she’s wacky, losing it, carefree, a hippy wanna be, etc.). I have not had one single person ask me why. For some people, there may be no curiosity and they are super accepting. For others, they may just write it off to whatever belief they hold about middle-aged women who dye their hair purple.

This boy in my dream reminded me how important it is to talk to each other about what we see or experience in the world. We never, ever have a complete picture of reality (we can only see and observe so much). And, we also begin to tell ourselves stories about what we are seeing or experiencing. Take the young boy in my dream, for example.

If I were talking to him and he wasn’t looking at me, I could then assume he wasn’t listening to me. Next I could then jump to a story about how disrespectful he is – or how the youth of today just don’t have good social skills – or or or! I could then walk away from this boy with the belief that all young people who don’t respond when I talk to them are what is causing the failure of our country today.

By the way, this is how fast it can move through our mind. Boy doesn’t respond, moves all the way to young people are the ruination of the world, in a nano second.

What if I slowed down a bit and asked him (with curiosity), “Can you hear me?” When receiving no response, what if I tapped him on the shoulder and repeated again? He would probably look up and we could then begin a conversation where I learned that he was deaf. No story created, only an experience that would help me be more aware next time (and maybe even save the world from ruination!)

Want to know why I dye my hair purple (I kind have you trapped as you’ve already read this far!)? I do it because I can. It’s as simple as that. I reached a time in my life where I really feel like I can play by my own rules, and if you don’t like that, it’s not my problem. It’s something in you to deal with.

I am the same person I was before I dyed my hair. Nothing has changed, except that I’ve taken an action on something that has lived inside me for a long time. Yet, no one will know that unless we talk about it. Ask me with genuine interest and curiosity why I dye my hair purple now in life. I could then share how I married at nineteen, had my first son at twenty-one, the second at twenty-three and spent many years being a good PTA member and soccer mom. Not a lot of time to be exploring the wild child side when one is packing lunches, helping with homework, kissing boo-boos or helping mend broken hearts.

Learning what is going on inside another creates better understanding and connection in a world that can seem disconnected (and I really mean “seem”, because it’s only our thoughts that can cause much of this). Next time you start to form a conclusion about someone or something, be like a child and just ask a question (maybe not one like, why do you smell funny or why is your belly like jelly).

Uh oh, I need to back up as that reminds me of something! Someone did ask me once why I dyed my hair. And when I shared my reason, he simple said “Oh ok. Thank you, E-ma”. That would be my seven-year old grandson.

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