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30 January 3, 2010

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Ramblings.
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Brown is my natural hair color.

It’s not obvious at first, but shine a light on my head and you’ll see it clearly enough. No, it isn’t nearly as brown as my mom’s hair — a natural brown a shade darker than milk chocolate — nor as noticeable as my brother’s (a smidgen lighter than mine), but look closely and you’ll see: I have brown hair.

I suppose when you’re young there’s a need to cling to whatever it is that makes you unique to boost your sense of identity and self-esteem. Oddly, for me it was my hair. I’d never told anyone that. Other kids seemed more talented or popular than me (or so I felt); many others were wittier or smarter. Even when I began taking my studies much more seriously, I didn’t want to be remembered as the nerd whom everyone could rely on for homework (though it turns out I don’t exactly have a say in that). Yet I could always take pride in the fact that I was the kid with the natural brown hair, an unusual characteristic for the average Filipino.

That was my little secret. That’s what made me different from everyone else: a physical trait that would usually surprise people when they’d notice for the first time, in the process making me feel just a little bit special. Even now, in my private moments, it still brings a smile to my face to think of myself in this way.

Lately, however, my hair has begun to gray.

Not all at once, of course, and not in any copious amount as to make my acquaintances remark that I’ve aged suddenly since last they saw me (unless there’s a patch silver at the back of my head I don’t know about), but enough that I’ve started to notice. It’s true we all know that such happens eventually, that a time will come when we’re no longer as young as we once were. But I suppose I didn’t think it would happen so soon, in the same way that people convince themselves that thirty is the new twenty or some such other nonsense.

Time is a thief. It takes the best of what we find in ourselves and leaves something diminished in its place. It’s the great equalizer, for given a long enough period what once was special becomes mundane, and what once shone can just as easily lose its luster. So it is with all things in nature, including my brown crop of hair that will eventually gray completely.

Yet if we look carefully, time also allows us to put our existence on this plane in perspective. This is a true blessing. Indeed, the mere fact we live but briefly is what gives our lives any meaning at all. Thus, I am compelled to ask: Could it be that my slowly graying head of hair is nature’s subtle reminder that I have much more to be proud of now that I simply take for granted? That it’s really time to grow up, let go, and begin looking forward instead of back?

I think so. Come what may, I’ll always be that kid born with brown hair, and its inevitable graying brings with it the realization that the best years of my life lie before me and not behind. The challenge, therefore, is to make the most of the road ahead so I can look forward to the day — when no one can tell my hair was ever brown — that I can say in all sincerity, “And how remarkable my life has been.”

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