The Zen of Wearing Funny Hats

A while back, as a meditative exercise, I experimented with the idea of introducing chaos into my experience by altering one seemingly insignificant detail of my life.  I was going to start wearing hats more often.  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.  I don’t watch baseball or really follow any sports, so this was a task in itself.  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.  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.  I didn’t have any answer.  After a week of wearing the hat, the friend I’d borrowed it from got upset and demanded I give it back.  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.  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.  Hartford isn’t really a cowboy friendly territory I suppose.  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.  It uncovered insecurities that I’d never known existed in myself and others.  The friend who demanded I give him back his hat couldn’t stand the idea of someone else enjoying something that was his.  The girls I met that night at the bar couldn’t stand the idea of looking foolish in front of strangers.  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.  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.

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