October 21, 2008
The Spiritual Lessons of Locs, Or Dreads, Or Dreadlocks
Here's a view of a couple of strands of hair.
I am now growing my second set of locs. There are some deep spiritual applications in the process. I am not Rasta, so I am not growing true organic dreadlocks. I twist my hair, style it, condition it, etc. I understand there is a large debate in the locked community about how this hairstyle is labeled. Some insist this twisty style be called dreadlocks, others insist it is OK to use the abbreviated term locs, others use the term dreads, African locks, etc.
There are a lot of myths surrounding this style. It's untrue you can't wash your hair if you have locs. It's untrue you must add all types of "stuff" (peanut butter, heavy gels and creams, etc.) to facilitate the locking of the hair. I have viewed youtube videos by those who claim to "make dreads" by using some pretty bizarre methods. Anyone with a camera and internet access can put their views out there. If you have kinky, African-type hair, you can cleanly, safely, and comfortably grow locs without using the aforementioned extreme methods.
Having said that, here are some lessons of locs. I knew much of this prior to growing locs, but having to work the principles on a personal and daily basis makes a huge difference.
1. What you do stays with you for a long time. If you make a large mistake, surgery may be required to correct your error. Those wiser than I have consistently taught unless you want unattractive build-up inside of your locs, always use clear, opaque, and easily rinsed away shampoos and conditioners. Natural ingredients are best.
I think the spiritual application is pretty clear on this one. What you do becomes a part of you. Make informed, careful choices. You can probably undo your mistake, but it is going to hurt.
2. Don't ignore regular maintenance and cleansing. Things can get out of hand very easily if you ignore the "small stuff." This hairstyle reminds me of a tapestry, custom-woven. No two are the same, and each is beautiful in its own way. Still, regardless of whether you go to a salon for a loctitian's services or are a do-it-yourselfer (like me), keep up a regular routine to insure the health of your hair.
Lesson 2: Consistency is the key to long term success. Starting off well isn't enough; day-by-day follow up keeps you on target. Here, we can refer to prayer, Bible reading, church and personal worship, positive thinking, killing negativity or redirecting it, regular meditation, etc. It only works if you keep at it. Also, if you decide something really is a bad idea and not worth your time, you can only be sure of your decision if you have stuck with your method long enough to prove to yourself it doesn't work.
3. We often pay much too much attention to outward appearances. This is a style which some refer to as having its "ugly stage." I'm not sure about that, but I know the style emerges and changes as the hair grows and is styled and shaped.
Lesson 3: If I want to understand someone, I am responsible for not making too many judgments based on outer appearance. It is just too easy to "fix a face or body" to look a certain way. What's going on inside of that person takes longer to discern and observe. If I want to have an honest experience with someone, I've got to take the time to know what's going on with their "interior person." And, they've got to be willing to share. If I don't want to invest the time, I should gracefully move on. Just as you can't "make dreads", you can't force knowledge or insight.
You can buy loc extensions to create "a look", but you can't buy understanding or empathy or concern. The real thing always takes more time.