I’ve wanted to write a post about my dreadlocks—the reasons I grew them and the reasons I cut them off—for a long time. It’s such a big subject to me, and something so personal, that I’ve shied away from it with a vengeance. The other day, though, reading a post by Tobias Buckell about dreads, rasta, and growing up, I spewed out a comment which more or less encapsulates the gist of it. I may come back to the topic, but in the meantime, here’s a bit of writing about my dreadlocks:
I’ve never been religious, and am an avowed atheist, as you know, but since I’ve been exposed to rasta (admittedly later in life, after high school), I’ve known mostly nothing but the same kind of attitude you describe: discipline, commitment, the monk-like approach, as you say. So much so that, years ago, when I resolved to embark upon a major life-change, I decided to lock up in order to signify it.
I approached one of my closer rasta friends, to inquire about how to go about it, half-expecting an indignant “how dare you”, and a swift dismissal. I should have known better. We sat down, we reasoned, and he said “Dreads are about constance, commitment, strength of spirit; it takes patience and mindfulness to lock up, especially for a man without natty hair, like you. I’d be grateful if you let me help you lock up. If you let me help you on your journey.” And so he did.
For the years I was locked up, my dreads were a constant reminder to keep going, to stay the course, to not get discouraged when something didn’t quite go the way I wanted it to. It was also a wonderful exercise in patience, as my friend had said—watching them grow from short, skinny baby dreads into full, thick natty locks was a very gratifying experience.
One day, years later, after I was at the place where I had wanted to be, I decided that it was time for another change. I had just embarked upon yet another phase in my life (the one I’m on now, actually), and I felt that I needed to lose baggage, etc. I cut off mine dread.
I don’t regret having done it, but I still do miss them so.
And I do. One day I may put myself back on that path and lock up again. But for now, I’m raspacoco.