Back in the early eighties I parted my flowing blond locks smack dab in the middle of my acne-scarred forehead, and spent considerable time and several dozen cans of my mother’s Aqua Net in a vain attempt to keep my dastardly cowlick flush with the rest of my coiffure. There were times that my hair was so hard from the hairspray that a blacksmith could have pounded out horse shoes on it. Despite my best efforts that little lock of hair would find its way to an upright position perpendicular to the crown of my adolescent cranium. I looked like Alfalfa in a velour shirt and Sergio Valente jeans.
That cowlick is one of the last vestiges of my youth to remain. So much has changed. Now I worry more about the hair in my ears than the thinning hair on my head. My belly looks like I gathered all my teen-aged memories on a big plate and ate them. My ankles swell at night, my back hurts, and when I collapse in a heap in bed after a night of partying I have to be sure to put on the CPAP. Not that I party all that often. Okay, not at all, but still.
I recently visited my doctor for my annual physical, which I religiously schedule every three or four years. Our conversation went something like this: “Yes, I know, I weigh too much. My pressure is up. I should take a multi-vitamin. Exercise is in the works, yes, as soon as my back feels better. I plan on cutting back on the calories, doctor, yes, starting this week. You’ve got to check what?!? Cough.” I then went to the lab to have the prescribed blood samples drawn, eight tubes in all. In the waiting room I sat next to an old man whose pants were pulled up just beneath the nipple line of his chest. He glanced at my prescription and stared at me in a way only an old person can do without eliciting an “excuse me” and said, “Welcome to my world.”
It was then that Ecclesiastes came alive for me. That is a book in the Bible I never quite got; it seems so…cynical. Yet, as my cynicism for all things political, economic, and narcissistic grows, the book seems to grow in meaning for me. “Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!” Eccl 1:2. He’s so right on – all the time we spend on our bodies, our achievements, our reputations, our cowlicks – vanity.
What matters in the end is dependence on God. He provides us with all we need, and in that provision we can enjoy the life we have been given. If that means I scarf down a nice plate of kielbasa and a glass of St. Pauli Girl every now and again, so be it. It all comes from Him who loves me. A hundred years from now memory of my accomplishments will join my Sergio Valente’s. For now, I’m going to love the ones I’ve got, enjoy a meal while the food is hot, and maybe even crack open a bottle of vino every once in a while. I’m going to honor the God who gives so freely out of His endless love for me. And I’m going to let that cowlick do whatever it wants to do. Aqua Net and Paul Mitchell be damned.