Ricky made a decision to let go of his hats. Used to cover a progressive hair loss, he has left the world of things on your head to painfully rejoin the living. It’s like giving up on the Easter Bunny, only funny.
I met Ricky many years ago while working in a tire shop. As a close friend and my semi-adopted son, I've squirmed a little as I watched him struggle with his lack of hair. The hat thing didn’t work for me; I felt he was covering up, and saw it as a external weakness he didn’t need to cultivate.
Using the universal principle that everything that bothers me about others is something in myself that I’m putting a hat on, let’s explore:
I am not against covering up and protecting. Covering up the things in my head has always seemed like good common sense – it’s a big cold world out there and I’ve always believed that if the bastards really knew what was going on inside me I’d get rubbed out. It has never occurred to me to wear a hat though.
But the outside, physical thing seems to be the place I've drawn a line; for some reason it freaks me out – I think I’m externalizing the internal, or projecting onto the non-personal.
I’ve had a goal that some time in my life I would become like a physical holograph – a virtually shaped pile of all one kind of meat -- in how I appear to others. As conceived in my head, others would see me from any angle as consistent and unchanging. No one would have to guess – I would be, as I appeared to be. “What would Mike do?” would be a quaint expression others used as part of a drinking game– an upside down joke on my John Wayne solidness.
This hasn’t played out as I’ve hoped, so far – but it’s happening much faster on the outside than the inside.
If I say a thing I become responsible for it. The more clearly I speak, the more the weight of reason can be applied to my failings. If you disagree with what I write, you can point to where I’m weak and force me to expend energy and strength in hard work and uncomfortable reflection. The more I’m open, the easier it is to scrape the juicy good parts of me out for cookouts.
I had coffee with Ricky and another friend, Kim, at Starbucks last week. Without his hat, Ricky looked grimly determined, but uncomfortable. Since I still saw some hair around the edges, and because I’m a man of extremes when it doesn’t apply to me, I made some suggestions to Ricky for further action:
“Get one of those fancy handheld razors and shave everything off,” I told him, “Then wax it and grow a big bushy beard.”
Ricky and Kim stared at me, continued to talk to one another, and then agreed on a more gradual approach that wouldn’t scare as many people. I disagreed with this, but was probably just talking to myself at that point.