I have been spending a lot of time lately in self-reflection and meditation, trying to address my weaknesses and shortcomings. Trying to be the man I want to be. One of the biggest obstacles I face on a daily basis is my ego; the part of me that attaches itself to material or physical possessions; the part of me that is selfish and proud and greedy.
On Friday I shaved my head.
Yesterday I arrived at school to students and teachers agape and gasping, as Koreans are never shy to do. They're the kind of noises and stares that are impossible to interpret, that contain no judgment, that mean only that something interesting is happening.
One of my students was not so ambivalent. "WHY?!!" He practically screamed at me. "I don't understand why you cut off all of your hair!!" He seemed to be on the verge of tears. I tried to explain how convenient the hairstyle can be, how I can roll out of bed without worrying about a bad hair day. He couldn't understand. He loved his hair. He appeared to be genuinely distraught.
Mr. Lee, one of my co-teachers, saw me in the hallway today. "In Korea, when someone gets a drastic haircut like that, we say that their character has changed." I smiled, thinking of my own attempt to influence my character in recent weeks, but then I thought again. Changed in a positive or negative way? "Usually negative," he replied, chuckling.