Today, I write to you all about self-acceptance and the life that you shall choose to lead for yourself. Today, even as a 26-year-old man I felt small; yet I did not respond as if I would have just a few short years ago. Today, I was on the receiving end of a blunt joke that was passed off as casual humor, in front of colleagues and over 600 students and their teachers that I had just mentored. There is a bit of me most don’t know and although the “persona” shows a bold and confident man, there are roots of self doubt that have run deep in my past. I’ve been carrying an internal desire to have dreadlocks, as a devotion to something for myself that I had heard would take me on a journey like I have never seen before and have since been growing the top portion of my hair to do so.  Being a bisexual man, I always laughed at this notion of feeling slighted for a hairstyle and merely smiled. The process so far has left me with a pretty unique look for most men and I now sport a bit of a blended “man-bun” and “top knot” that I wear to keep my hair out of my face until I can have long enough hair for the style that I desire. If you talk to people with beautiful dread-locks, they will usually tell you that they have devoted 5-10 to 20+ years to their locks and look, a devotion to myself that I wish to live out. When asked why, most just smile and throw what is an obvious off handed answer as if the “outsider” just wouldn’t understand; and for this, I seek more to live in the style of what feels like “home” to me, unkempt hair, a beard and casual style of function over fashion.

Today a “dig” was thrown at me for my hairstyle and I stopped shocked as I heard what I thought was a light hearted joke, but still with the notion of the “joke” I sat silent; mind you, I was still standing with a microphone in my hand in front of this crowd of almost 700 people. I had a witty comeback loaded, as anyone who knows me will have seen my usual sharp humor, yet literally couldn’t speak and felt no notion to respond. I just shook my head, waiting for my “old self” to burst out and overtake my mind as it usually does, but it didn’t.  Instead I stopped, took a breath and said nothing and then added what came to my mind for the sake of the cheer that was being attempted as to engage my section of 200+ kids: “We are brilliant”. With my whit and poise in check, I stood and just played out the scene for the moment, yet really wasn’t settled. I was able to carry on with the show and engage my students with an even more powerful “chant” than the one that was thrown out to start this nonsensical scene. As well, I feel I was a face of strength for those who have been ridiculed or “picked-on” and showed characteristics that a true leader should show.

Within two hours of the event I heard from a colleague that what I thought I heard was nothing of what was really said, as I was caught off guard to begin with. After hearing what was actually said I realized I wasn’t any more upset, although I could have been due to the context change. I realized I not only showed my internal strength and core, but in front of over 700 people I stood up for myself in a way that was tactful, professional and got more of a response from the students and adults in the room than I would have expected. This was not the old me. This was not what I would have normally done; yet, I am new. I am a new man, tested by life, molded by experiences and love and no longer live in the self-directed angst of the actions of others. This is a power I never thought I could possess and really am proud of myself and grateful for my life’s experiences to lead me in a direction of peace and contemplation over suffering and reaction.

Live light, find your core and honor the souls path. You are nothing more than the actions you take and moments you lead. Live and lead a life of peace, love and acceptance.

Rev. Wood


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