In one of my favorite movies, "Jeremiah Johnson," the central character played by a too-pretty Robert Redford is a mountain man -- one of the people who were the first white people to know the wilderness of the American West. Since there are few reliable records of mountain men, the movie is largely speculation ... but it's a good tale for my taste.
Early on in the movie, Johnson runs into another mountain man, Del Gue -- a fellow who has shaved his head as a means of warding off any indians who might want to scalp him. "It's not the first time I have protected my scalp in such a way," Del Gue explains.
But towards the end of the movie, Johnson runs into Del Gue again, only this time Del has a full head of hair. "Ain't that hair I see on your head?" Johnson asks. And Del Gue explains that he decided that when he dies, he would like to be remembered for something, if only as a scalp "on some man's lodge pole."
All this came back to me this morning as I thought about the comments on this blog -- and elsewhere on the Internet -- that are written by "anonymous." I suppose there are all sorts of wriggles and squirms that can be used as an explanation for why anyone on the Internet might want to protect their scalp... all the perks of commenting without any of the responsibility.
I'm not criticizing. Everyone protects their scalp for a while, but there is something to be said for the question -- what are you protecting? What's wrong with owning up to the hair on your head?
It may be more dangerous to speak your truth as best you may, receive and implement whatever corrections are necessary, and remain carefully camouflaged as circumstances dictate. But camouflage has a way of blinding the one who is hidden from him- or herself. The camouflage becomes the reality when the fact is there is hair on your head. And whose hair is this?
I think Del Gue had it right: Even if it's only as a clump of hair on a lodge pole, at least it would be the truth as completely as you know or knew it. And things are a lot lighter where the hair simply grows. How can you expect to find out who you are if you can't even allow yourself to be who you are?