Living inside one’s head for an entire lifetime, you must learn how to be happy there first before being capable of ever achieving happiness in this world. This is the essence of the ancient Egyptian maxim inscribed inside the Temple of Luxor: “Man, know thyself”
One day master said, “Stop believing that the universe owes you anything. It gave you your life and it shall give you your death too. It owes you nothing. The only being in the universe who owes you anything is yourself.”
“But master, what then is it that we owe to ourselves?” his students asked.
“To be fully awake and seek truth. This is what you owe to yourself.”
“Surround yourself not with those who wish you success but those who will not allow you to fail.”
Some ancient wisdom for modern times from Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.
My wedding photo contains a secret that I pass by every time I head downstairs to my office to stare out the window and pretend to write.
In the photo I’m young, just 22, and have a coif of thick hair covering my head. But already, I’m going bald. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) molecules inside my body are secretly working to slowly shrink my hair follicles and choke off each strand. I’m alive but my hair is dying. At the time of the photo, I don’t know that though.
Today, some 25 years later, I’m nearly bald. My only remaining hair is on the sides and back of my head with a small stubborn tuft on top.
I’m not alone. Thirty percent of men begin showing signs of “male pattern baldness” (MPB) by age 30. That goes up to 50 percent by age 50 and 60 percent by age 60. This progression continues until you reach 100 percent of men going completely bald when they’re dead.
DHT is a sex hormone produced in your testicles. Specifically, it’s an androgen hormone. The prefix andro is from Greek meaning “masculine”. We tend to mistakenly credit only testosterone as the elixir of our masculinity. But DHT, which is produced enzymatically from testosterone, is key to our maleness. It’s what gives you a deeper voice, muscle mass, chest and armpit hair, facial hair, a prostate, and yes, the hallmark feature of being male: a penis. Only about 5 percent of testosterone is converted to DHT, but DHT is five times more potent than testosterone.
But what DHT giveth, it also taketh away. While DHT is necessary for the growth of body hair, it is detrimental to the growth of the hair on your head, which grows in three distinct cycles: anagen, catagen, and telogen.
Anagen is the growth phase. Unless you’re already bald like me, most of the hair on your head is in this phase. The longer the anagen phase lasts, the longer your hair grows. Catagen is when a hair follicle renews and telogen is when a hair follicle is dormant.
DHT attaches itself to the androgen receptors in the hair follicles on your head, resulting in a shortening of the anagen (growth) phase and a lengthening of the telogen (dormant) phase. Over time, DHT-saturated hair follicles atrophy and eventually stop producing hair.
Can you stop MPB? Yes. A sure fire way to do this is castration, which I don’t recommend. Can you reverse MPB? Again, yes. There are a number of pharmaceuticals (both oral and topical solutions) such as the popular Rogaine that you could use. These are chemicals that basically act as DHT interrupters or inhibitors. I don’t recommend these either as they can mess with your hormones.
Alternatively, you could undergo Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) hair transplant surgery, which removes hair from the back of your head and transplants it to the areas where hair no longer grows. FUE is expensive (about $15,000) and doesn’t always work for everyone. I don’t recommend going to the expense and trouble.
Here’s what I do recommend for those of you with MPB: purchase electric hair clippers. My personal favorite is the Wahl Chrome Pro Clippers, which can be purchased from Walmart for $30. You then use these to shave off the remaining hair on your head that DHT hasn’t yet decimated. I personally go guard-free and shave my hair down as close as possible to my scalp. Takes about 5 minutes. I do it weekly.
If you have MPB, I recommend you own your baldness. While your high DHT levels have brought about the untimely demise of your youthful coiffure, it may have endowed you in other above-average ways. And if not, don’t lose any sleep over that either. Being a man is holistic, defined by much more than the hair on your head and body or the size of your dick.
For sure, there are worse ways to go bald: cancer, radiation poisoning, burn victim. Be happy that the death of your hair isn’t a major health crisis or the untimely death of you. Embrace your baldness and set yourself free. In the end, the only person who cares about your being bald is probably you.