A while back, as a meditative exercise, IÂ experimented with the idea of introducing chaos into my experience by altering one seemingly insignificant detail of my life. Â I was going to start wearing hats more often. Â Yeah, this doesn’t seem like a big thing and in many ways it really wasn’t, but being a lifelong detractor of hats, it was an awkward experience.
I started with a baseball cap. Â I don’t watch baseball or really follow any sports, so this was a task in itself. Â I settled for a black ‘Coke Zero’ hat I borrowed from a friend. and set out into the world to see what would happen.
Nothing, at least not at first. Â It felt weird on my head and blocked my vision but after a couple days my friends and family started responding differently, asking me why I’d pick coke zero. Â I didn’t have any answer. Â After a week of wearing the hat, the friend I’d borrowed it from got upset and demanded I give it back. Â Though I’d never seen him wear it before, nor ever again, I complied, and it went back to sitting in the corner of his room.
Next I tried a cowboy hat, which I wore to meet new friends at a bar one night. Â This experience was much more pronounced, being a bigger hat I guess. I found myself quickly mocked and made fun of by the people I’d met. Â Hartford isn’t really a cowboy friendly territory I suppose. Â What I most learned from this experiment was that a subtle hat makes it easier to blend in with society while an outlandish one will make you stand out.
During this exercise, I learned a good deal about the people I was surrounding myself with. Â It uncovered insecurities that I’d never known existed in myself and others. Â The friend who demanded I give him back his hat couldn’t stand the idea of someone else enjoying something that was his. Â The girls I met that night at the bar couldn’t stand the idea of looking foolish in front of strangers. Â It offended them that I wasn’t concerned with what other people thought.
In a society built upon compliance with social mores, it’s difficult to break from the normal flow and do something different. Â This was an attempt to inject a tiny bit of chaos into my experience and in the end the effects were profound.
If you grow tired of your rut, try wearing a funny hat.