This week I had my hair cut for the first time in 8 months. It wasn’t vanity (or so I tell myself), but simply exasperation with the discomfort of my unruly and thinning locks. I have colleagues who say they’re looking forward to dressing up. And, to be sure, pride in one’s appearance is not the same as vanity. To care for one’s body may be an expression of the care for one’s soul. But there is much we attend to that is not to the point. Tagore’s poem contrasts the rush of nature with the fixation on personal appearance, but we can understand the resonances more broadly. When are we so preoccupied with the details of one thing that we miss the essential that is going on around us? Tagore chides us for lingering over trifles and reassures us that we may come as we are.
Todd Breyfogle, Denver, Colorado