Springingtiger's Blog


My Brown Derby

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I have bought myself a Billycock, a brown Derby. I should have said, “at last” because I have wanted one for a long time. I blame Spike; when I was little there was a cartoon bulldog called Spike who was everything I wasn’t, tough, confident, fearless and he wore a brown Derby. I was small weird and perpetually both scared and confused, somehow the brown Derby became a symbol of what I would have liked to have been, but never expected to be. The brown Derby is a hat with attitude, it suggests a hint of rebellion or, rather, independence. It is not a conformist hat like the black bowler of the banker or army officer, the brown Derby defies convention. This is not a hat for a collar and tie and umbrella, the brown Derby is better suited to a turtle neck sweater and ash stick.

I have too often lived a half life, I’ve been happy to some extent, but my life was plagued with insecurity. I have gone without many things I wanted because I could neither justify the expenditure in terms of my need or my worth. You could say I’ve lived smaller than I might and it’s not an empowering way to live. True, in many ways I have accomplished many of my goals, but they tend to be in hidden things,  not to be spoken except quietly, and I have not valued them as I should. My extravagances have been small and unfrightening, like my interaction with the world. Nelson Mandela once quoted Marianne Williamson, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.”

Unlike Mandela the only prison I been living in is the prison of my own mind. This week I have seen the films “Philomena” and “The Butler”, last week Nelson Mandela died, earlier this year we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the March On Washington and I have been thinking about the passage of time. Richard Bandler says that, “The only thing you get from waiting is older!” I am sixty, I am about to be unemployed, I think I’ve waited long enough to live the life I want. Now is my time, I shall write and paint, make my garden beautiful, bring healing, watch my grandchildren grow up, see the sunrise in places whose names I can’t pronounce, listen to a lot more blues,  but above all I shall live. I do not know how many days, how many seconds, are left to me, but I shall squeeze each one dry. I shall live, and savour every moment, who am I not to? I could not justify the cost of my brown Derby, I didn’t need a brown Derby, but now, having bought it, I realise I have never needed anything more. This is my Happy Hat!

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