Thursday, August 16, 2007

The long and short of it: On Dierks Bentley's hair and the power of reaching out

On Monday night, I posted an open letter to Dierks Bentley, asking him to keep his hair short for Bud's sake.

On Tuesday afternoon, I received a lovely e-mail from Cassidy Bentley, Dierks' wife. They'd read my letter and wanted to give me an update on the status of his haircut.

I won't keep you in suspense: Cassidy says that Dierks may be growing the short hair out. But, she assured me, he'll be growing it slowly and not to its original length, so maybe, she said encouragingly, just maybe that would give Bud the time he needed to make the transition, too. And, she said, they'd love to send Bud some short-hair-only mail when Dierks gets home from his current tour.

Yes. It's true. Dierks and Cassidy Bentley really are that terrific.

After I read Cassidy's e-mail and mopped myself up off the floor, I wrote back to thank her for her thoughtfulness, to thank her for reaching out, to thank her for caring that a seven-year-old boy with autism is troubled by the length of her husband's hair. We had a brief exchange from there about the power of the internet and about the remarkable nature of the virtual community it houses.

The next morning I thought about our exchange as I drove to work. The title track of Dierks' latest album was playing on my iPod:

It's a long trip alone over sand and stone
That lie along the road that we all must travel down
So maybe you could walk with me a while
And maybe I could rest beneath your smile
Everybody stumbles sometimes and needs a hand to hold
'Cause it's a long trip alone

It's a short piece of time but just enough to find
A little peace of mind under the sun somewhere
So maybe you could walk with me a while
And maybe I could rest beneath your smile
You know we can't afford to let one moment pass us by
'Cause it's a short piece of time

It started me thinking.

Long trip alone.

Short piece of time.

Two themes I seem to hear a lot about from the parents of children with autism.

On one level, Cassidy sent me an e-mail to discuss Bud's concerns about Dierks with long hair vs. Dierks with short hair. But on another level - on a much more important level - she sent me an e-mail to reach out, to connect, to say "I'm here, too." And her e-mail reminded me that this parenting journey - this parenting journey so often defined by autism - doesn't have to be a long trip alone. There are supporters around every corner. There are allies at every turn. And sometimes they come from the most unlikely of places. We just need to remember to reach out.

Reach out when we need.

Reach out when we're needed.

Thanks, Cassidy. And thanks, Dierks. It was a short exchange, but it's one that will stay with me for a long, long time.

Free and easy down the road we go. All together now.


Anonymous said...

I haven't been reading this blog very long, but i am so glad i took the time to read it. That was beautiful. Thanks.

Bea said...


kristen spina said...

A bit choked up here. Damn. Just when I'm getting all worked up to battle it out with the refrigerator repairman, I read this, I melt, I'm suddenly thinking, maybe the repairman has troubles too. I should be nice. I should be kind. Bees to honey and all that. Okay. End of story.

Anonymous said...

The tears started to well up in my eyes as I read this. You know, the thought did cross my mind when I read your open letter that maybe Dierks would read it and have something to say in response.....

I do have to say that I am tickled pink that you and Bud have developed this new interest in country music. Lyrics such as the ones you mentioned here so often speak to my heart.

So good to know the Bentleys are "good folk". And.... I'm secretly happy to hear that Dierks is considering growing out the hair again. I was having a little trouble with the change myself, having been a fan of his for some time. I was really attached to the longer hair!

Christine said...

We recently had a similar exchange with Oliver's favorite band, The Hackensaw Boys. They invited Oliver to be their special guest a few weeks ago when they performed close to our city. They took time to make a difference and it meant the world to me and to Oliver. There are some mighty fine people in this world, I'd say.

mumkeepingsane said...

I think this might have renewed my faith in humanity. How very nice.

Daisy said...

Sniff. Beautiful. There are beautiful people in the world.

kristina said...

And the value of reaching out---the long-term gains, the support and sustinance---'nuff said.

Club 166 said...

I was amazed the first time a stranger reached out to me personally over the web.

It still never ceases to fill me with awe that people I can connect in very personal ways with people I've never met.


Drama Mama said...

...And I've never cared for country music.! Looks like Mr. Bentley has a new fan. Flipping over to Amazon right now.

I love what he and his wife did for Bud.

There are a lot of good people in this world.

Cait said...

This is very cool! :) It's neat to see when music (and other) stars turn out to be real people and good people at that, at least in a small, but real way. :)

WarriorMom said...

Wow. I think good people attract good people.

Niksmom said...

Um, not sure how I missed *this*!! Yes, I am eating my hat over my snarky comment about "sahre his response..hee hee hee!" Goes to show there really are good people who are big stars and not "too good" to stay in touch with what it means to be a human being, a citizen of the world. I love this.