Way back in January of 2020, before the virus started changing everything about the way we live, I had this recurring dream.
I don’t always recall my dreams, so when I remember one, I pay attention to it.
The dream was both simple and complex. (I should probably tell you that my dreams often have a kind of surreal feel to them.)
This one begins with me being aware that I am present and that I am having a dream. Almost immediately, the point of view shifts and I’m seeing myself as someone else would see me, through that person ’s eyes. I suppose this makes me both protagonist and a bit player. Throughout the dream, my point of view keeps shifting back and forth like this, but I’m always me—and always thinking my thoughts—even when I’m looking at myself from a distance.
The dream is not set anywhere, nor is there any action. I do notice—and this is key—that I’m both aware that I have long hair and that I feel good about my hair. The dream always abruptly ends at that point.
Then the virus came on, and I started working from home. The barbershops all closed. Once they reopened, I began to read stories about how people were getting sick while getting their hair cut. A few “super-spreader events” even happened during such scenarios.
Somewhere along the way, I had the thought that I’d just do a little life experiment that would involve me letting my hair go. The soundness of this idea was reinforced by the dream. Perhaps it was my subconscious trying to tell me that I should try a new look or that I was having a midlife crisis? Instead of going out and buying a sportscar, I’d revisit my youth by growing long hair again. (I should tell you that I had pretty long hair in high school and college.)
Some refer to the kind of experiment I’m doing as a “self-experiment.” As I was preparing to write this, I found that such experimentations are actually a thing. Alice Boyes, in her Psychology Today piece, writes about some she’s done and even provides a list of experiments readers might try.
So far, my experiment is teaching me a lot. For example, I’m experimenting with different ways to comb my hair, and am trying a variety of methods to deal with that awkward stage I’m in now. (I can pull a ponytail, but I’ve got neither short hair nor impressively long hair, so I’m working my way through a kind of ugly phase.) (I promise I’ll post a photo here once I feel like I’ve reached a kind of satisfactory result.)
I’ve discovered that my very full and wavy hair needs extra moisture so I’m doing some problem solving there too. One of the really great benefits of such experimentation is that the outcome is unknown and there are certain to be problems that have to faced, analyzed, and solved as the thing unfolds.
Actually, there are a whole bunch of benefits that result from these kinds of experiments. Blaz Kos discusses some of them here.
I’d like to finish by asking you to share your experiences with this kind of experimentation. What have you tried and how did it turn out?