After a harrowing day of meetings, difficult personalities and small personal failures that have reduced my consciousness to a crater of spiritual devastation, I still have to buy shampoo. And there in the drugstore I face a panoply of choice so overwhelming that I want to collapse in the aisle until they cart me off to a nice white room in a hospital where I only have to stare at a white wall and there is only one tiny bottle of shampoo in a bland white 3 oz. bottle they hand me.
At this moment I long to keel over. I secretly sometimes wish it were still acceptable for women to faint, although this thought is anathema to my feminist self. I am grateful to not be wearing a corset and considered a weaker sex. But there is a little part of me that just wants to let go and have it be acceptable to collapse on the floor.
I manage to steady myself and begin to peruse the cornucopia of hair washing products. My eyes are seduced by bottles promising healing and health all with peaceful, exotic or life changing sounding ingredients. Aragan oil. Mandarin. Hibiscus. Rosemary. Lavender. Cucumber. Coconut. They are usually in strangely shaped vessels of soothing colors. Robin’s Egg Blue. Tea Rose Pink. Cucumber green.
That’s when I become a believer. I know at this moment that my world will transform if I can step into the shower and lather these elixirs into my hair. A shower itself is a fresh start. Cleaning the dirt and grime away. Baptism and confession but also reincarnation. Here I am naked and guilty. Heal me. Let me be reborn. Adding the shampoo only deepens the experience. That is why they are more expensive. Love, wisdom, redemption. It’s a small price.
My frontal lobes weakly try to remind me there are marketing wizards behind this curtain. Step away. These shampoo gurus have researched what colors, words, scents and textures will light up my brain. Somewhere there is a complex excel spreadsheet with pivot tables and numbers next to the face of a stressed out 40 year old woman. I like to picture the shampoo team. How did they end up in the shampoo business? Do they sit around and have meetings where they pull out maps and have presentations on exotic flowers? They know everything about me. I am interested in yoga and meditation. I am a career woman interested in social change. I am also anxious and depressed, sometimes at the same time, and have an obsessive fear of death. I also care about the environment and arts and culture. I believe in alternative medicine.
There’s one gazing at me that says it contains Blue Lotus Flower. It’s in an oval shaped container the color of the sky on a perfect summer day. It seems to understand me. Suddenly Kwan Yin, the Buddhist Goddess of mercy whose name means the “One who sees and hears the cry from the Human World, emerges above it seated on her own lotus flower. Arms outstretched in boundless compassion and love she is saying everything is okay. I am perfect the way I am. She lathers some shampoo in her hands and massages it into my head. She tells me to just let go. I find myself mouthing let go and rocking in a strange trance like state when I hear another voice. I wonder what wise God this could be joining us.
“M’am, M’am is this your wallet?”
“What?” I open my eyes expecting to still see Kwan Yin’s warm, compassionate smile but am faced young, unsmiling clerk with Bob Dylan hair and glasses standing holding my wallet out to me. I realize I must look like a tad left of center. Nirvana has surpassed me again. “Oh. Yes. Thank you. I must have dropped it…” My voice trails off into an embarrassed mumble.
‘You’re welcome.” he mumbles annoyed and shuffles away to other drug store emergencies. I grab the Blue Lotus shampoo and head to the counter where I somehow can’t resist grabbing a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup.