In a child’s bedroom, the ceiling is painted navy. Glow in the dark or sparkly stickers are affixed above to give an illusion of sleeping beneath a galaxy of stars; to play pretend at falling asleep under a personal solar system. This child will likely grow up to like science, too. Environment predicts and enables so much.
There was one period during my elementary school years in which as many as thirty vintage hats were tacked to my bedroom ceiling. I have no idea how they were acquired, but when one has more than two of anything, outsiders view this as a collection in waiting and start giving you more of this thing. (no one needs this) I would lie there reflecting on the variety of styles and consider the variety of woman to don them. A prim Ladies Lunch; a day at the shops; a silky black-tie affair; an all-black funeral. Once upon a time, it was unheard of to not wear a hat. They were used to denote a type of employment or the astuteness or upscale caliber of a person. Now it is so rare to see a person with a hat, the impression is as if one’s personal style has been taken to the max. A man may as well be in suspenders then, too.
We do not see in the moment what we will inevitably outgrow.
After all these years, I have only two of the thirty remaining. Most degraded over time, not properly stored. Had I actually worn them, they would’ve become threadbare even sooner. They had a purpose. They were only for display. No amount of wishing would’ve given me extensive wears of a disintegrating hat -they had a lifespan. I did sell off a good bundle to a vintage resale shop before one of my moves. I’m always liquidating.
We can squeeze things too tightly, we squeeze the life out of it.
All the characters and personalities swirling around us, like the hats once did above my head, never need be engaged; or worn, metaphorically. One of the few upsides in these last two years of Covid, is how people’s innate nature has risen from dormancy. Resiliency won. Introverts were elated. Others showed themselves to be more tyrannical and controlling; the germaphobe felt license to be more unhinged and scream in people’s faces. The neurotics will continue to be neurotic. In the same way money brings out inherent qualities: the more one has, the more generous and giving they become, or the stingier and more miserly. Situations unveil a person’s character and values.
We cannot change who people are; we can only meet them where they are.
Meet them and leave them, if you must. Like some of the hats, you hope they wear themselves out.
My two vintage hats remaining are preserved well.