The Byrd's Nest: The black and white of changeIf there is one constant in this universe, it’s change. From summer fields of green that turn white with winter’s frosty arrival to the bright red uneaten apple that turns dark as it withers away, we can always count on the fact that change is inevitable.
By: Klark Byrd, The Dickinson Press
If there is one constant in this universe, it’s change. From summer fields of green that turn white with winter’s frosty arrival to the bright red uneaten apple that turns dark as it withers away, we can always count on the fact that change is inevitable.
We humans put in an awful amount of effort either preparing ourselves for change, fighting it or adapting to it. Sometimes we look forward to it — like my wife and I did when we welcomed the newest addition to our family last April — and sometimes we don’t — like the folks who find comfort in using botox or plastic surgery as a kind of temporary fountain of youth.
While we’re on the topic of aging, let me just say that I simultaneously welcome the change and wish to avoid it. For more than 30 years, I’ve looked into a mirror and have been greeted with a head full of pitch black hair (with the exception of that one time in high school when we thought it was a good idea to bleach my hair seven times so it would turn blonde and it turned out to be not such a good idea). Although I’m lucky enough to have dodged the genetic bullet of balding, there’s one sign of aging that’s already making itself known — my black hair is turning white.
I noticed the first one two years ago. It was on the side of my head near my temple and it shimmered under the fluorescent light, sticking out amongst its peers like a sore thumb. I remember laughing a little, musing how I had gotten my first white hair at 30. Two years later, they’re everywhere — on my head, in my goatee and even on my chest!
The proliferation of white hairs has reached a point that friends who chat with me over Skype can now see them, and they point them out with absolute giddy pleasure. I just remind them that if they live long enough, they’ll see their hair turn white too.
To be completely honest with you, I’m surprised my hair didn’t turn white a while ago. It’s a change I’ve been prepared for since I was 15. The summer of that year I spent at Frostburg State University as a member of a math and science program. When my roommate’s father dropped him off, he turned to me and complimented me on the rich darkness of my hair. His hair was salt-and-pepper, but had obviously been just as black as mine at one point.
I thanked him and he continued by telling me that I should enjoy its dark color for as long as I’ll have it because folks like us with black hair go white first. Now I don’t know the scientific stats on which hair color loses its color first, but I definitely know it shows up first with dark hair. The contrast is just too easy to miss.
It’s of no matter though, I did take his advice to heart. Over the years, I have thoroughly enjoyed having black hair (despite how freaking hot it gets under the sun) and the compliments I’ve received from people. But change is inevitable and it is upon me now.
My wife likes to joke with me that maybe it’s time to try some hair dye for men. I’ve never liked the flat appearance provided by dark hair dye. Besides, it’s not so bad turning white. Some folks tell me that white hair is a sign of wisdom. I don’t know about that, but look at actor Steve Martin. He’s been white for hundreds of years (well, at least more than 30, which may very well be hundreds of years in Hollywood time) and he’s been quite successful.
While there are some changes I’ll most likely fight against, my hair turning white will not be one of them. So if you see me out and about and you happen to notice that there’s a shimmer amid my dark hair, I’m not wearing hair glitter. I’m just getting wiser.
Byrd is the copy editor at The Dickinson Press.