“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”—Lennon
Tiffany Shlain, award-winning filmmaker, speaker, and founder of The Webby Awards, shares how living in today’s over-connected world has led her family to unplug for one full day every week, and it’s completely changed their lives.
“They say an elephant never forgets. Well, you are not an elephant. Take notes, constantly. Save interesting thoughts, quotations, films, technologies…the medium doesn’t matter, so long as it inspires you. When you’re stumped, go to your notes like a wizard to his spellbook. Mash those thoughts together. Extend them in every direction until they meet.”—
“Is it true that you rub your hair in beeswax?” “How do you get your hair to stay like that?” “Are you Jamaican?” “Are you a Rastafarian?” “How often do you wash it?” “Have you ever washed it?” “Were you born with locks?” “Is that all your hair?” “Can I touch them?” “They feel so itchy.” “They look like burnt Cheetos.” “You look like Bob Marley.” “You look like Lil John.” “You look like Medusa.” “You look like Lil Wayne.” “You look like Whoopi Goldberg.” “What’s in them?” “Shake them around for me!” “You must be creative.” “Nice hair. What instrument do you play?” “Have you ever thought about cutting your hair?” “What you would you do if I cut one off?” “Can you feel this?”
My hair is both a magnet for welcome attention (“Yes, I’ve been growing them out for seven years. Thank you for asking, hot bassoonist girl at orchestra camp.”), and unwanted jeering (“No, drunk guy on trailing us on Venice Beach, my family is not Rasta. It would be prudent to stop shouting about it because my father is very, very close to smashing your face in.”). Generally, I make friends easily in new situations because people automatically assume I’m cool because of my hair, and Paideia was no exception. After the initial novelty of my first year, people got a bit too comfortable with me. I never got taunted outright but I still felt ostracized in different ways. Unwanted petting of my hair, trying to put stuff in it, presumptuous questions, all were seemingly friendly and joking acts, but I could tell they were a subtle form of ridicule. Perhaps the person sticking a staple in one of my locks thought he was a unique, edgy comedian, but I did not find it amusing as a weekly occurrence from different sources. Of course these same Seinfelds must also come up with an endearing pet name for me. One can gauge the popularity of dreadlockéd stars of the time by my chronology of nicknames. For a time, I was known as Lil John, of “Get Low” fame. I didn’t mind it at first, because people liked it when I said “Yeauuuuhh” and “Okayyyy” I thought myself quite funny. Luckily, he faded out of popularity when I started tiring of it. Whenever there is a dearth of a current celebrity with hair like mine, people just call me Bob Marley, and revert back to Rasta and Jamaican comments. My biggest annoyance is when people assume my family is Rastafarian because we all appear to have dreadlocks, even though my sister technically has twists. A few years ago, I was Lil Wayne, who I bear no resemblance to. Our locks don’t even look similar, and our faces and skin tones are not even close. People don’t seem to look past my hair and their alien fascination with it gets old, quickly.
I feel a certain solidarity with long-haired males. We’re not straight-laced and square; we break the rules. Long-haired guys are free from the ritualistic castration that is the haircut. We are strong and sure of our bold choices with our head. Of course, shaggy guys can also relate to the somewhat emasculating feeling of asking a girl for a hairband, of sometimes having to settle for a pink sparkly one, or even a scrunchie. (Luckily the separation and length of my dreadlocks lets me tie my hair with two dreads in the back.) We know how it hurts to get it caught in jacket zippers. We can bond over being mistaken for female. A dermatologist once repeatedly referred me to as a she when I was eleven. I guess my Carmelo Anthony jersey, masculine name, and medical file that he was reading was not enough to make him see past shoulder length hair. This sense of solidarity may just be unique to me, and it is ridiculous to assume that all long-haired guys are cool. But that still doesn’t help me feel betrayed when my hairy brothers cut their tresses. It is a sad rite of passage when a (usually white) guy cuts off the hair he’s worn for most of his youth to get a more “mature” look. As time went on, I rapidly lost people I could connect with on that level. Eli Gershon used to have long blonde hair that ran down his back and gave him the appearance of a childish Norse god. Ciaran Buckley did all types of gymnastic spins and flips on the play ground, the swish of his mop trailing behind each of his twirls. August Bair had shoulder length hair that would swish lightly as he swayed with his guitar. I was the Winthrop to his Harold Hill and it our hair was something that united us, bridging the seemingly insurmountable gap between seventh and eighth grader. Tragically, Jane forced him to cut it. August’s mom came in and pleaded with Jane for an alternative. I overheard their muted conversation by sticking close by while I was on cleanup duty after rehearsal. “August could put it in a ponytail,” she suggested, but Jane would have none of it. Her noble period piece would not be tarnished by a parent’s unreasonable whims. “Then why doesn’t he have to cut his hair?” Mrs. Bair said with an accusatory tone and a finger pointed at me. Jane stammered out an incomprehensible defense about how children could possibly wear their hair long in that time. I think she was afraid that I wore my hair in dreadlocks for religious purposes and she also could sense that she was nearing the logical wormhole that is the existence of a blonde family in 1912 Iowa that bore a black son (An awkwardness that did not end with The Music Man; I was also the very visible brown spot in the Alpine-white Von Trapp family). His mother’s appeals against Jane were fruitless, something she perhaps knew before coming in. August came back after a long weekend with his hair shorn and I had no one.
I dunk my head under the water of my grandparents’ pool for some respite from the swollen July heat. I let my body sink down to fully submerge. My hair, however, stays above the surface trailing me like tentacles from jellyfish. It lingers for the briefest, gentlest moment in Marrietta that day. It lingers like a ghost, as if to remind the world of my presence. Eventually, the water penetrates the porous dreads and they start the gentle descent to my shoulders, so slowly that it’s not clear that they actually moving downward at all. The message still remains: The world will know my story, because my story is in plain sight, blossoming from my scalp. My hair is my strength, channeling the life force of my shaggy forebears who were brave enough to wear their hair like me. I am Kurt Cobain, I am Milli Vanilli, I am Captain Hook, I am Troy Polamalu. I am a Beatle, I am George Clinton, I am David Cassidy. I am Zeus, I am Rick James, I am Jaco Pastorious. I am Crazy Horse, I am General Custer, I am Samson. I am Bob Marley. We have the confidence to make bold decisions to rewrite history. We are blessed with the ancient burden of being an irregularity, a beacon of excellence in a world of conformity and mediocrity.
-Elijah Andrews (taken from an essay that he wrote during his junior year of high school in atlanta)
WSJ Guest Mentor Peter Arvai, CEO and co-founder of Prezi: What do long-term relationships and co-founding companies have in common? I was recently listening to couples therapist Esther Perel discuss long term relationships at Summit when it dawned on me that the two experiences have a lot of parallels. Of course, co-founderships lack the physical intimacy, but all the other staples of a successful long-term relationship are part of a successful co-foundership. Most interestingly, mutual admiration is right at the top for both set of circumstances.
I think back to when I first started working with my co-founders, Adam and HP, and how passionate we were to start something successful in our home country, Hungary. Working through the night was not uncommon, we thought of nothing else for weeks on end and our friends started to wonder if we were dead. That’s all pretty similar to the giddy feeling you get when you first fall in love, just without the compulsion to jump on one another. It’s a time of hope and promise. Compromise comes easily, you listen to everything the other person has to say because you’re complimenting a need in each other. Sure, you face setbacks like not having enough money to do what you want. And there are always bound to be plenty of people who will tell you it’ll never last. But they don’t matter, you’re too in love.
Remind them that a runner’s high doesn’t come from thinking about the end result; to a runner so affected, the end result is assured. Instead, they think only of the moment, one step, one breath, and one heartbeat at a time.
I’ve heard there was a secret chord That David played, and it pleased the Lord But you don’t really care for music, do you? It goes like this The fourth, the fifth The minor fall, the major lift The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Your faith was strong but you needed proof You saw her bathing on the roof Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you She tied you to a kitchen chair She broke your throne, and she cut your hair And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah
Baby I have been here before I know this room, I’ve walked this floor I used to live alone before I knew you. I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch Love is not a victory march It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
There was a time when you let me know What’s really going on below But now you never show it to me, do you? And remember when I moved in you The holy dove was moving too And every breath we drew was Hallelujah
Maybe there’s a God above But all I’ve ever learned from love Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you It’s not a cry you can hear at night It’s not somebody who has seen the light It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
You say I took the name in vain I don’t even know the name But if I did, well, really, what’s it to you? There’s a blaze of light in every word It doesn’t matter which you heard The holy or the broken Hallelujah
I did my best, it wasn’t much I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you And even though it all went wrong I’ll stand before the Lord of Song With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah