Letting go of old emotional baggage is important. Of late, I discovered one that surprised me. Of course, it shouldn't have. I've known about it for decades. It's just in this season, this month, and especially this week that I've decided to deal with it.
The driving cap.
Yeah, that's me, sweating the weather that's going to keep me from pedaling downtown for a nibble, unless I choose to revisit Sunday last with wind, rain, lightning, and that sobering three-fold brush with my mortality.
Back to the cap.
My daddy wore these pretty much 24/7. I never did, and he was the reason. I suppose I've rejected a good many things because of him and our relationship. One exceptionally naive counselor even attributed my homosexuality to him. Yes, I managed to restrain my reaction because I was trying to be good, not argumentative, but I still break out in a good laugh when I think of that. The old fool was too deeply entrenched in the Catholic priesthood to be of much use to about anyone.
Oh well, both he and my daddy are a thing of the past.
I used to dream of fighting with Daddy two or three times a week. I'd grab him by his feet, swing him around me, and dash his head to a pulp on the rocks and trees around us.
He died some 20 years ago, and his ashes are buried in the cemetery by the church where his daddy once preached briefly. It took another five or so years to work through my feelings about him, and no, a hired gun counselor was not involved. I generally do not trust those folks much, though I'd likely benefit if I'd deal with that on too.
Yeah, that's probably another set of baggage for another day.
I thought I was about finished processing my feelings toward my daddy until last week when a local store put hats on clearance, a serious clearance. On an impulse, I laid down a few bucks, and brought 100% cotton Woolrich cap home. Shouldn't it be made of wool?
Then I wore it, briefly at first. Looking in the mirror, I saw him. Now, everyone at some point looks in the mirror and sees parents. It's what we do, especially at midlife. Then it occurred to me that I was denying myself a hat that I liked simply because I once had problems with a dead man. I should be smarter than this. That I wear the cap does not make me his post-traumatic stressed self. (The man fought at the Battle of the Bulge in the second world war. How do you come out of that and not be scarred?)
Then it was clear, just as I realized five years ago that I could find the courage to climb and sit in the shoe shine chair in the Washington airport, and thereby let that withered man and handsome soul earn his living, I could find the strength to wear a cap I really do like, and step beyond the bullshit of all those years past.
That our past colors our present and future is nothing we can change. In fact, it's something we should embrace. What defines us, however, is another matter.
High school reunion? Don't go get all funny, not yet.