By Tim Hayes

Got a haircut the other day. For the past couple of years, as the clippings fall from my head onto the black cape, it jars me to look at the collection of snipped follicles collecting on my lap.

Apparently, I’ve been turning steadily more gray with every turn in the stylist’s chair. How can this be? In my head, I’m still in college, for God’s sake.

“Look at all these gray hairs!” I said the other evening, halfway through the haircut.

“Those aren’t gray hairs,” said the nice lady who snips my mop every seven weeks.

“Uh, I’m pretty sure they are. I’m looking right at them, and they sure aren’t black. What do you mean, they’re not gray hairs?”

And she came back with a retort that simultaneously made me laugh and lifted my temporarily sagging midlife spirits.

“They’re wisdom highlights,” she said.

What a great term! “Wisdom highlights.” Talk about spinning a story the right way.

Of course, graying hair has been a dominant trait in my family for generations. Nobody dyes them out either. We’re a hearty, honest bunch. When the genes run out of hair color, we don’t go looking for more from a bottle, doggone it.

We view gray hair in my family as a sign of strength. Persistence. Perseverance. Honor. Running the good race. Weathering the battering years of child rearing and coming out the other side in one piece. And not a hairpiece, either.

Or, to quote my mother about the gray hairs she sports today, “I earned every last one of them.” And, boy, remembering back to the crazy crap my siblings and I pulled growing up, she’s not only correct, but deserving of a round of applause.

I find it kind of humorous how so many folks try oh, so valiantly to deny this natural progression when it comes to their hair color. Think of Bob Barker on
“The Price Is Right” all those years, snapping around his brightly colored studio, his face framed by a full, deep, dark, brown, perfectly coiffed head of hair.

And chemicals to make it look that way.

Check out YouTube clips of that show from the 1980s. The man was in his ‘70s then. Sure, he was in pretty good shape, but did anybody really believe that thing on his head was in any way natural? He looks ridiculous. Eventually, old Bob either got wise or got sick of coloring his ‘do, and just went with the all-white hair most of us remember.

There’s a birthday coming up soon for me. My 59th. One away from the milestone marker of 60. But I recall when I hit 30, which everybody says represents the first major stop on the path to middle age and oldster-ism. It didn’t bother me in the least, nor do I anticipate hitting 60 being all that traumatic either. Check back in a year or so, though. Things may have changed by then.

In the meantime, let the graying continue. To my mind, it’s the truest reflection of who one may be at that point in his or her life. Let it go. Who cares? At the same time, if it makes you happy to adopt a hair color other than the one Mother Nature may be giving you at the time, who am I to judge? Knock yourself out.

My hair stylist has the right perspective on the whole thing, as far as I’m concerned. Am I getting older? Sure. Getting grayer? Obviously. Getting wiser? You bet. And I have proof.

Just look at all those wisdom highlights.

Copyright 2019 Timothy P. Hayes