It may seem to mark the cycle of the seasons, growing out a lush, protective coat against the supposed chills of California winters, and shedding it again, moments later, in the spring. And, indeed, it has been used as just such an almanac by certain indigenous tribes of Silicon Valley that are not known for venturing far enough from their computers to observe actual weather.
Yet there are more subtle, fractal patterns in these seeming transitory phases. The sparse, infant similarity of a new cut yields to soft-rounded baby fat before moving on to terrible twos, an adorable childhood, and various awkward teenage phases, recalcitrant and pimply, during which its eventual maturity must be accepted patiently as a matter of faith, justified a few inches later. This joyful, curling prime of life is soon tinged with gray strands growing ever more prominent with their length, and foreshadowing the drawn out scraggle of old age.
It is at this point that one invariably laments the lack of Life’s “rewind” button, a leisurely meander back through halcyon memories — in place of the harsh pruning of shears and razors, a gradual reabsorption. But flowing locks flow in one direction only, and cannot be recalled so easily as sent out. (Though this is occasionally attempted, when it seems no one is looking.) And so, all other stages seeming discontinuously arbitrary, nothing is left but to bid farewell to the old, used form and begin afresh on a clean slate, free of history, yet full of potential.