Unknotting the Knot

While cleaning the other evening, I vacuumed my hair.

I did not vacuum up my hair. I vacuumed the hair still on my head.

I had bent over to get an enormous dust bunny under the bed when the vacuum nozzle came off and the suction went full bore after my ponytail hanging nearby.

I yanked my hair loose, but the vacuum had already spun it into a stunningly tight knot the size of a pine cone.

Now, when you vacuum your hair into a knot the size of a pine cone, you really have two choices: Cut the pine cone off or unknot the knot.

I went for the latter, and so I headed to the shower. The thing to do, I had read, is bathe the knot in conditioner then deploy a battleship of patience as you massage it out.

For half an hour, I stood under hot water and rubbed, pulled, stretched the knot. What became clear was that the way to approach this was a single strand at a time: One strand frees up another, and the whole knot loosens slightly. There’s nothing riveting about it. It’s a top-notch practice in patience.

But this was how the knot was undone: one strand after the next.

When I finished, the pine cone was gone. My hair was back in a ponytail. And what did I learn? As has been said, the large is made up of the little. And of the many things we can do to our hair, vacuuming need not be one of them.

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