There’s always some of Max left behind.
Anyone who has a pet knows the experience, especially now that it’s shedding season. You can’t walk past your pet without some of their hair being drawn to you as though you’re magnetized.
Every interaction leaves a little bit of them stuck to you.
We humans do that with each other, too.
If you think about it, a little bit of us rubs off on everyone we meet. Whether we’re aware of it or not, we leave a part of ourselves in every encounter.
In a sense, we share our hair, too.
(Which explains why I seem to have less and less of it on the back of my head. I’m not losing my hair; I’m just sharing myself generously. Yeah, that‘s it!)
The whole hair-sharing thing is pretty cool, actually. Every stray strand of our pets’ hair contains their DNA, their molecular blueprint. Who they are, embedded in each hair.
And when their hair gets embedded on us, we’re attached to them in another way. We not only hold them in our hearts, we wear them on our sleeves. And our pants. And our jackets. And our …
The same goes for us.
Every interaction involves sharing a bit of ourselves. Some of us rubs off with every word, every smile, every frown, every tear. When we’re kind to someone, it affects them. When we’re nasty, it affects them, too.
How we treat others tends to stick with them, even if it’s only for a little while. Every stranger that we come across ends up carrying a little bit of us away with them.
I’ve seen it happen.
I’ve seen an impatient shopper approach a kind check-out lady who smiles at them, says hello, compliments their choice of gifts, talks to them about their day. In a moment, the shopper’s mood changes. Instead of frowning, they’re smiling and having a nice conversation.
You want to know what grace looks? Well, there you go.
The check-out lady not only rang up their purchases, she also put a little bit of herself into the transaction, too. And it affected the other person.
Our kindness rubs off and sticks. So does the other stuff — the ways we treat others when we’re in a self-obsessed mood, when we’re negative and judgmental.
Even our indifference rubs off. When we ignore people who reach out to us or walk past someone without acknowledging them, we tell them they’re not worth our time or attention. And that also leaves a mark.
Our most intense hair-sharing moments involve our most intimate relationships. Often, the fur really flies.
So, too, does love.
Love leaves us covered in pieces of others. It’s a messy and amazing thing. Everyone who truly loves winds up covered with bits of others that rub off on them.
And they don’t seem to mind. In fact, they learn to like having parts of others attached to them. They feel naked if they don’t have strands of hair here, there and everywhere.
Maybe that’s one definition of love: Pulling others close enough and holding them tightly enough that we wind up covered in their hair. And they in ours.
Now, that’s not a popular idea these days, especially in our culture of individuality. We’re told to keep a safe distance from others. Don‘t let anyone get close enough to rub off on you, especially someone who needs you. Tell them to keep their hair to themselves.
Don‘t tread on me. Or shed on me.
We’ve become very good at avoiding others’ hair. And at using one of those sticky roller things to quickly whisk away any stray hairs that might somehow find their way onto us.
We stay very neat. And very alone.
Which is a real shame, because we miss out on so much of the really good stuff of life.
When someone entrusts a strand of themselves to us, we have a part of them with us always. Every moment, every day. Even when there’s a distance between us, they’re still on us and in us.
And that strand will cling tightly to us for as long as we choose to leave it there.
A piece of them and their love going with us everywhere.