The next time you see me, you may not recognize me—I scarcely recognize myself now when I look in a mirror. I’ll soon have a ponytail. I’ve already got a full beard, but my hair isn’t yet quite long enough to tie back yet. My last haircut was in January, before my annual Honolulu trip—and I expect that will be my last haircut for a very long time—maybe ever. Right now my hair is at that in-between length, which tends to drive me crazy. I’ve gone through this in-between length a good many times in my life, and
every time I forget how much I can’t stand that in-between stage. Wearing a headband (usually made of a folded bandanna) is and has been my solution. That keeps the hair out of my eyes, until I can tie it back. My hair grows thick and fast so that won’t be that much longer.
Here’s a gallery of pictures of me over the years with my hair at various lengths. I’ll post a current picture of me with my new ponytail as soon as I have one (a ponytail, that is).
This is me at age three months in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, where I was born. (I love that the state motto is “Land of Enchantment,” and that the town is named after one of the most influential abolitionists, Charles Sumner.) Not much hair on me at this point, but I get my hair gene from my mother’s side and it grows thick & fast.
This is me at age eleven in our back yard in Allsboro, Alabama, with the best specimens of my first collection—seashells. I was very happy with how my wall mounting turned out. I did it all myself, and I used a scrap piece of plywood, that was already cut strangely, so I made the best of it. As I look at it now, I’m happy with how grounded and balanced it looks—I guess it’s what you’d expect from a Libra. One of the main things I learned was how nice it was to collect things, and then display them well. My mother collected fossils—she had an extensive collection of sea creature fossils that we found locally. (Our father was the one who cut our hair.)
Here I am twelve years later in the loft of a barn in Hotrock, Tennessee. My oldest gay friend from high school, Rick Mears, took this photo of me in 1975 on land that I would eventually build an underground house on. Hotrock was very close to the Elk River, and it was named after a certain flat rock by the river that (years ago) people used to gamble on. The next closest community was Coldwater. I always liked that Hotrock and Coldwater were next to each other—a bit of a yin/yang balance there. I was 23.
Here I am nine years later, at Shasta Abbey, a Zen monastery in Northern California. I’m halfway through getting my haircut in preparation to become a Zen monk. I’d first gone there in 1976 and I received lay ordination then, and in 1983 I became a lay minister (meaning I could teach people how to meditate). And then when this picture was taken, about a year later in 1984, I was preparing for a period known as postulancy, where you live like a monk but don’t yet sleep in the monk’s meditation hall.
Here I am on October 6, 1984, the day that the Rev. Jiyu Kennett ordained me as a Zen monk at Shasta Abbey. I made those robes myself, not the brown shirt, but all the rest, including carving the wooden robe clasp.
This was in 1990 at Opening Books in Huntsville, Alabama. I had just opened the business as a 501c3 non-profit library with a gift shop. I’m with my dear friend Will Tuttle, the New Age musician, who had come to visit Huntsville. I hand painted those elegant Art Nouveau letters on the Opening Books sign.
Here I am with short hair again in Hawaii in the mid-1990s. I was living in an old coffee shack in Captain Cook, and working as a day manager at the Ohana O Ka Aina Natural Foods Coop in Kainaliu. I was just starting to practice feng shui on the side. I already had realized that the location of the Coop had horrible feng shui. I had first worked in that coop when it was in Kealakekua when it was in a place with very strong feng shui. In its new location it was struggling, and as I was learning feng shui, I could see why.
This was one of my very first feng shui publicity pictures taken around 1999. Once again, my friend Rick Mears took the photo…and there’s my ponytail back again.