Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

I declare myself to be the greatest, or maybe the absolute worst, customer for any cosmetologist.  When individuals walk into a salon what is the first question asked?  “How would you like your hair cut?”  My answer is the same nearly every time.  “Any way you would like to cut it.  My requirements are simple.  I need to be able to wash and go most of the time, yet it needs to be able to be styled to look nice for occasional meetings.  Oh yeah, and I will only use a hairdryer and a flat iron.  With curling irons, I am too fearful I will burn myself. And most importantly, I won’t complain about what you do.  Hair can always grow.  I will inevitably love it and say thank you for whatever you come up with!”

That is what I tell the hair stylist.  Here is what I will tell you.  I like to go in for a haircut.  I like to feel pretty, but really feeling pretty and looking nice are only passing experiences.  This attitude of not being too concerned with how I look does not stem from prosopagnosia.  Rather, this apathy is derived from my lack of visual memory.  Beyond the words I can use to describe my current hairstyle, I cannot remember what my hair looks like once I am turned away from a mirror.  I can leave a salon and not realize I look any different from when I went in for the cut.  Even if it is a bad cut, it won’t bother me too much.  I cannot recall a mental picture of how bad I look.

The picture above is my newest style.  The cosmologist was great to work with.  She followed my requirements.  It is a great cut allowing me to wake up and start my day.  I was able to recently use a flat iron to look professional for a meeting.  Leah did a great job.  I told her it looked so much better.  You see, I have come to the realization that it is sometimes okay to say things that make people proud of the job they work hard to accomplish.  In the forty-five minutes of sitting in her chair, I was not going to burden her with the struggles I undertake.  After all, I have lived with this condition for eight years now and I still struggle to grasp the reality.  How do I describe to her that I cannot remember what my hair looked like when I brushed it that morning?  Why would I try to get her to understand I could not remember if my hair was touching my shoulders, above them or maybe even just below when she started cutting?  There are too many things, all these pictures I used to be able to bring to my mind, that are no longer accessible to me.  Having been left with acquired prosopagnosia after my stroke causes me not be able to find myself in pictures.  The complete lack of my visual memory takes away my ability to recall the cut, shape or shade of my hair.  Details such as these are far too difficult to grasp for someone who has created a successful career out of these very important, specific mental images.  Besides, I was proud of how nice the style looked.  I will hold onto the happiness even if the images will only last in my mind for a moment or until the chair is spun so I can go and pay my bill.

Comments on: "Perfect Haircut for Any Season" (7)

  1. Does it work this way at all?
    That tomorrow when you look in the mirror you can say, look at that nice haircut on this woman!

    That might be nice?

    (And indeed it is a very nice haircut)

    • Judith,

      I never remember what my hair cut looks like nor the exact color of my hair. What I can remember in words always stays with me. For example, I know my hair is darker than my daughters. I know that my hair is around chin length. Other than that, the image is always a treat or a disappointment. 🙂 I am forever a stranger in my mirror.

  2. I like what you say about saying nice things to people so that they can be proud of a job well done. Seems to me that, the older I get, generating good feelings in the world is pretty much the whole point to life. Sending out the good ripples, to ripple on and on, to improve the world with goodness before we leave it…What could be a higher purpose?

    • Well said Sarah – very well said! We are all candles. Our joy and happiness can provide light for others searching for a smile. These people will pass along the light we share, yet our light will remain strong having lost nothing when we share with others. Soon, if we are able to share with enough people, it is amazing how bright our light will become.

  3. We have a similar answer to the stylist! Mine is, “Anyway you like it” and I add, “I trust that you want me to look good as well.”

    You look good beyond haircut! Love you 🙂

  4. Hi Tara,
    You always look beautiful. All women need to do those things to make them feel even more beautiful. We are girls at heart and love to be pretty. Get that manicure, new hairstyle, handbag, whatever it takes. Treat yourself well.
    Your memories may not be, you have great photos to remind you.
    I’ve said it before, You are an amazing woman!

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