We go to the hair salon or barbershop in search of some kind of change. We ask for anything from a minor trim to a major cut, a barely perceptible highlight to a transformational new color. Many of us, however, secretly or openly desire to go beyond external change, beyond altering the way our head looks from the outside. What we truly seek is internal change – anything from a trim to a transformation of that which goes on inside our head.
As a result, many of us tend to have a special relationship with our hairdresser or barber. We freely share our cares and concerns, our sorrows and secrets, as we seamlessly extend the trust we have in their adept hands, swinging sharp scissors, to an overall trust in them. And when our defenses are down, when resistance is gone, when the wall separating us from the world collapses, it is then that we are ready to listen, to grow, to learn. This book is about the big lessons I learned from my barber, Avi Peretz, who for almost twenty years has been working in the same small salon in a small neighborhood in Ramat Hasharon, a small suburb of Tel Aviv. The salon is a well-known fixture in the local landscape, located in the neighborhood center, alongside Café Caramel, Yuval’s convenience store, and Jacob’s grocer. Together, these entities encircle an area paved with large tiles, unevenly spread, some of them broken; a wooden bench that was once green, now worn out by the harsh Mediterranean sun; and a few dozen post boxes, each belonging to a family living nearby. Witnessing this all is the old tree with roots bulging out of the paved floor, providing shade to the grown-ups talking about their new startup, the children playing tag, the cats and dogs and pigeons coexisting peacefully.
In the midst of all this, Avi’s salon is a gathering place that provides women, men, and children living in the neighborhood much more than a hairdo. His relaxed manner and generous hospitality, his wit and wisdom, affords people just what the fast-paced, high-tech, postmodern world lacks.
Short Cuts to Happiness published by Yellow Kite, £12.99