Let me tell you a story. A true story. One day (forty years ago, when I was nineteen), I was visiting friends and family in Toronto. I was going to my aunt’s for supper and we arranged to meet at the hospital where she worked, so that she could give me a lift to her home. As I stood waiting in the lobby, I noticed an old woman coming toward me. When she was standing in front of me, I realized it was my aunt. The last time I saw her she had black hair, but apparently she had stopped dying it and it was now white. She looked twenty years older. At that moment I thought, “When I start going grey, I will dye my hair.”
Fast forward to about thirteen years ago, when someone referred to my three-year-old as “your daughter,” but then looked at me and said, “or your granddaughter.” I was shocked since I didn’t think I looked old enough to be my daughter’s grandmother. Sure I had the odd silver strand in my hair, but…
That made me decide it was time to dye my hair. I began with a nice, natural henna dye. After a few years it didn’t cover the grey anymore, so I switched to a temporary dye that didn’t have harsh chemicals. After a few years when that stopped covering the grey, I threw all caution to the wind, and used the serious stuff with the serious chemicals. I told myself that it was my one indulgence, as I have a pretty healthy lifestyle. I told myself that it wouldn’t really hurt me.
Obviously, my value of looking young was quite big.
Recently our daughter was diagnosed with a cancerous mole and had it removed. At the same time, I also had a few scary “Alzheimer’s moments.” I am talking about more than simply a “Oh, I had a senior moment” kind of thing. It was quite scary to me. So I looked up the effects of hair dye, and I read a few articles that told me that those chemicals that I am putting on my head every three or four weeks as I dye my roots, may have bad effects on the brain, and could also be associated with cancer.
I believed this sufficiently to make the decision to stop dying my hair. That is, I would get my hair dyed completely grey, so that I never have to dye it again as I just let my roots come in.
But I am not actually writing this about hair at all—mine, or anyone else’s. I am writing it because this whole experience showed me something. It showed me my great value of looking young. In some cultures, the older people are respected and honored. Not so much in ours. And I have bought into that. Obviously.
But my belief—my belief that hair dye might be badly affecting me, or might badly affect me in the future if I continue, made me take an action. I value my health, both physical and mental, more than I value looking younger.
And my point is this: Belief will result in action. Yet at the same time, values can be in conflict with belief.
And so I am asking myself about the other areas of my life: Do my beliefs, that is do the beliefs that I claim to profess, line up with my actions? If not, then I need to rethink some things, or perhaps “re-action” some things, i.e. change the way I act.
What do you think?