When my daughter was little she would put a pink T-shirt on her head and pretend it was long hair. She would stand in front of the mirror swishing it around and styling it. Yes, that child could braid a T-shirt. And make it into a ponytail or a bun.
One day we were getting ready to go to the store. She ran to get the pink T-shirt, and when it was arranged to her liking, she headed to the door.
Looking back at me, she asked, “Will people think I have long hair?”
“No, sweetie,” I said gently, “they will think you have a pink T-shirt on your head.”
She paused as a shadow of doubt flitted across her brow. But just for a moment.
“No they won’t,” she said resolutely. And flipping her long, cottony tresses over her shoulder, she skipped away.
That is one of my favorite stories of her irrepressible childhood.
I was reminded of it recently when I caught myself in a pink hair story about a situation that I wanted to be a certain way. I told myself that it was indeed how I imagined it to be, and was puzzled and frustrated by all the evidence right in front of me that didn’t comport with my desire. I wanted to dismiss anything that contradicted the image I had created.
It didn’t work, of course. I saw pretty quickly what I was doing, and still I was reluctant to let my dream go. The hold that our delusions have on us is strong. And so I did what I’ve learned to do when out of sync with what is.
And I began to inquire. What is the nature of this desire? Of the reluctance to let it go? Where do I feel it in my body? What is underneath?
I became aware of the energy it took to sustain the delusion, and I could already feel how tiring that was. I could observe the suffering of attachment, even a minor attachment such as this one. I saw, as is often the case, that our attachments are rarely about the object or story of our desire. We have to go deep for the source to be revealed. And as my hold softened, compassion welled up to soothe the loss.
I pulled off the pink T-shirt with gratitude, and lovingly put it away.
It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. ~Carl Sagan