I’m at the Omega Institute this weekend with my dearest college sisters, and we were blessed to hear Loung Ung speak on Friday evening. Towards the end of her conversation with Elizabeth Lesser, Loung spoke about being reunited with her sister after many years apart.
“Who brushes your hair?” her sister asked.
Loung explained that people brush their own hair in America, that we have conditioner and other amenities that make this an independent activity. If someone else brushes your hair in America, you are surely injured, or a reality star, or an infant.
But this question was really shorthand for asking, who cares for you? And in that light, the answer, “no one, I’m independent” — well, it’s just so sad, silky conditioning rinse or not.
My mom tells me that one of my first phrases as a toddler was, “do it myself!” — and truth be told, I still hold this toddler notion dear. But lately, I am wondering, in valuing independence so highly, what have we lost? How much connection, how much neighborliness, how much simple daily caring have we dismissed, just because it was not strictly necessary?
When we insist on these smaller declarations of independence, it seems harder to ask for bigger help when those bigger challenges come — which, of course, they always do. We’re out of practice, both as givers and receivers.
Dear Honeybees, wherever you are perched this day, I hope there is someone there to brush your hair.
And I hope you let them.
If you have not yet read Loung’s books, or heard of the new movie release of First They Killed My Father, there is no more worthy investment of your time. And Omega’s Being Fearless conference is live streaming next weekend, featuring Amy Goodman, Van Jones, Sister Joan Chittister, Jamia Wilson, and more. Finally, Adam Grant’s Give and Take is full of wisdom on the power of both giving and receiving.