Getting rid of stuff

Several weeks ago I ordered a mariner’s cap, similar to the traditional Greek fishmonger’s woollen cap with a small shiny black brim, dark blue navy colour, iconic gold anchor front and centre, black woven braid about the bottom edge and some knotted gold cord for decoration. It arrived (after clearing Customs and paying a small fee) in good order. It would have been fine if it had fit properly; but it didn’t. It was too big. My fault.  At least at first I thought it was. Instead of measuring with a string or tape as suggested by the retailer (who by the way is in Sweden), I opted to use the same broad measurement encrypted on the other hats I already own (in this case XL). Turns out in retrospect, after having (out of curiosity) today measured the circumference of my head with a tape measurer, the belated conclusion is the same as I drew initially from examination of my other hats (XL).  So even if I had measured as instructed I would have chosen the same broad measurement, the wrong one. And while you might be excused for imagining that that is today’s lesson – namely, don’t bother to read the instructions – it actually isn’t. The real lesson is that on-line shopping continues to have its insurmountable perils in spite of its efforts at efficiency. By the way I also should add that the measurement table was identical on another hat site in New York City.  So the error wasn’t just a blip.

This morning I gave the hat to my neighbour. She was serendipitously in the parking garage when I returned from a tricycle ride.  When I saw her descend from her automobile she was wearing a blazer with brass buttons and underneath a blue and white striped jersey all of which promoted an undeniable nautical theme. I recognized the fortuity of our encounter.  It was meant to be!

I confess that the occasion to rid myself of the mariner’s cap could not have been more welcome. I had been haunted by its mistaken presence since its miscalculated arrival. The only thing I despise more than mediocrity is the preservation of something worthwhile without employing it for its intended use. Leaving the new mariner’s cap stuffed away in the closet wrapped in tissue and plastic was no answer. It would not be the first time in my life I have purchased something which fails to prove of use (most recently a solid oak cabinet for storage of poker chips of multiple colours, red, white, blue and yellow). Nor accordingly the first time I disguised an unwelcome product from view or mindset. But as in the other circumstances of error, the truth will out!  It always feels better knowing a thing has a happy home (most recently a brooch I bought on Amazon in a moment of retail feebleness; I gave it to my niece).

Now after having kept you this long, I might appear to be making an about face.  Yes, I am changing course somewhat, but the underlying theme of influence remains.  My point is this; there are so many distinguishable elements of our lives which we’ve acquired sometimes by inheritance, sometimes unwittingly, other times by design. Nor is it insignificant that we provoke the early education of our youth by instilling the credentials for what might one day become the mossy shoreline rocks of their personal expression.  Breeding people to inculcate specific postures, customs, habits and appearances is an astonishingly prevalent activity in any society.  Indeed it frequently spells the character of that society.  What disturbs me about this particular conclusion (and this is beyond the anomalies of mere hat size) is that the purpose, significance and sustainability of those erstwhile indicia often survive in the body of the adherent but not necessarily in his or her mind or spirit; that is, the stuff which characterizes our being is frequently something about which the host knows little or feels nothing (or even more dangerously may presume to be universal).

What I am getting at here is that it should not come as a surprise to acknowledge that the clarification of life involves distilling oneself from a number of ingredients which merely muddy one’s countenance. The ambition of this sublimity is disclosure of one’s naturally secured moorings. While I have no objection to sporting a mariner’s cap or a kilt, it is important to remember that apart from a tenuous historical connection, those sartorial ornaments form but a weak liaison within our carcass. To imagine otherwise is to disclose the risk.