Rat’s Nest

A year or so ago my youngest daughter’s beautiful long hair frequently tangled into knotted messes, best described as rat’s nests. Refusing all offers of help, she insisted that she brushed it. It often took a hair stylist to unravel the rodent’s lairs. A few days ago, I am sitting with a hospice patient as a volunteer, honored to witness a life story beautifully woven with threads of hardship and hope, when I touched the back of my head. I touched it again, what’s that? Could it be? Oh no, Templeton’s temple! I’m mortified. How did that get there? Was it there the previous night at Bunko? Did all my “Minnesota Nice” dice rolling buddies see my snarled hair, but were too kind to say anything? Did the nursing home staff of the patient I was visiting notice? The patient herself, of long life and rich insight, had actual eyesight diminished to mere contrasts of light. At least, one person had not noticed.

So what insights can I glean from my ball of confusion hair?

In college I loved the song, “Ball of Confusion”, by Love and Rockets.

A few years ago I heard an instrumental of it playing through a local supermarket’s speakers; made me feel old. While writing this blog post, I discovered that the 1980’s version is a remake from the original version by The Temptations; now I feel young again. Lesson #1: you’re only as old as a song makes you feel, which is usually young. The magic of music stirs the senses of yore like they were vivid yesterdays. The rhythmic clank of the “Low Rider” cowbell summons the smell of burnt popcorn under the squinting sight of harsh stadium lights of high school football Friday nights. “Road to Nowhere” compels my body to twist in a dance-like remembrance of college Monday Night Dance Night, quite possibly the most carefree and fun time of my life. I can still feel the vibration of me humming “Eternal Flame” while rocking each one of my sweet smelling babies in the wee hours of the night. Time machines are real. They are called music.

Trapped inside during this winter break’s blast of sub-zero (Fahrenheit) and sub-human temperatures, some of my kiddos and I huddled under blankets enthralled with a “Once Upon a Time” marathon. “Once Upon a Time” is a television series about a modern day town of characters unaware of their folklore personas until a curse is broken by true love’s kiss. Most of the town characters, before love lifted the curse, were unlike their true fairy tale selves. They were lost, confused. Love gave meaning to their lives; suddenly everything made sense.

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”
― C.S. Lewis

I am now old enough to start believing in fairy tales again. Love revealed my true self and bestowed purpose upon my life, after a lifetime spent mostly lost. Interestingly, in “Once Upon a Time”, the plot becomes even more complicated and tangled after the curse is lifted, a lot like life. Lesson #2: accept life’s complicated, tangled times and know that everything will be okay. Love miraculously makes you know what you know that you know. You know? With this belief, this faith, you can associate meaning to life’s hardships and chaos. Not in perfect hindsight, but now.

“I gave the book to him because I wanted Henry to have the most important thing anyone can have. Hope. Believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing.” – Mary Margaret (Snow White), “Once Upon a Time”

Dancing like someone from “The Breakfast Club” back when I thought “Ball of Confusion” was an original song, I often teased my hair into a Texas 1980’s big hair socially acceptable rat’s nest. Until that style rolls around again (let’s hope not), I must heed Lesson #3: brush like crazy and ask for help. That’s what I did; I went home from my volunteering visitation and brushed and brushed. When my kiddos came home from school, I first apologized to my youngest daughter for ever doubting that she actually brushed, because she did, just like I did. But tangles happen. Second, I asked my kiddos to barricade my exit if they ever see another rat’s nest in my head again. “We all need someone to lean on” is a line from another college Monday Dance Night favorite that I DID know was a remake. And just like Love and Rockets, Club Nouveau did it best! “We be jammin’!”

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