Not What I Expected

Sometimes, things don't turn out the way you expect them to. Like today's haircut.

Backing up a bit...last July, my brother started a particularly strong type of chemotherapy to help ready his body for a stem cell transplant. For the first time, he faced losing his hair. In a moment of insanity, um, solidarity, I said I would grow out the gray in my hair. (At least I knew myself well enough not to volunteer to shave my head!) My stylist talked me into dying my (shorter) hair a colour that she claimed matched my natural colour. (My hair had been chemically treated for so long, in one way or another, that I honestly didn't remember what my real colour was.) Then, she said, the colour could grow out and I could look somewhat adult and respectable instead of like someone who hadn't really thought through this whole "growing out the gray" thing.

The whole growing-out process took a lot longer than I expected, and the results aren't nearly as shocking as I was steeled for. I was posting weekly photos to Facebook until I realized that they didn't show that much difference. Even today, 4.5 months after the beginning of the project, with today's cut taking off almost all of the non-natural colour, the results are a little ::yawn::. Yes, there's some gray -- quite a bit in some spots. About what I expected. Less than I feared. We'll see how long I allow it to stay.

Lesson: sometimes projects don't turn out the way you think they will.

In another example, I'm reading February, by Lisa Moore. It's thought-provoking and I'm enjoying, immensely, the experience of reading it. Her main characters are so well-drawn and she takes them places that surprise me yet are completely consistent for those people. All in all, it's making me consider a novel I've been working on for awhile (OK, years) -- the partial draft I have has been a struggle to write. The scope of the work has changed. My interest has shifted. The characters feel different to me than they did at the beginning. some of the parts I have written have that "I'm necessary to work with" feel and some just don't.

Perhaps it's time to radically re-think this project. Maybe I need to return to the novel I was originally writing -- or maybe I need to let go and allow the characters to tell me where they really want to go. I had been pushing to finish a draft, a little desperate to feel as if I were getting somewhere with it -- but perhaps where I wanted the characters to go wasn't appropriate. Perhaps my sense of urgency was misplaced.

Lesson: sometimes projects don't turn out the way you think they will.

In other news, my brother is doing very well. At some point in the past four to six weeks, he went from being a patient who works on writing projects in an hour or two here and there to a regular person who spends a lot of time working and writing and who oh yeah has occasional medical appointments. It's been really nice to be here to witness the change, gradual though it has been. He'll stay close to his transplant centre for another month, but soon he'll be back at his own home, figuring out what comes next in his life.

And so will I. I'll see what those characters have to say, check out the gray hair in the lights of my own bathroom, and otherwise get back to the regular business of living.

Lesson: even when projects don't turn out the way you think they will, they may still turn out pretty well. I wonder what lessons 2012 will bring.