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January 2, 2018

Memoir of a Well-Worn Hat.

I used to think inanimate objects were non-living things void of life force.

Yet, over the years I have acknowledged something different.

I now believe there is energy in every single thing on the planet. It may be the energy we, as humans, attach to objects, like the quilt my grandmother made me that I am snuggled under right now. I’ve attached love and comfort to it.

Sometimes we put energy into an object hoping that it is carried forth with it. For example, the prayer shawl I am knitting for a friend going through cancer. As I knit, I send prayers of strength and courage. I trust she will feel this energy when she wraps it around her shoulders during treatments.

Not convinced? (Haven’t you seen Toy Story?)

Well, how about I let an inanimate object tell a story from its perspective. I promise, by the end of this story, you will begin to discover the life force in the objects surrounding you.

The story “Memoir of a Well-Worn Hat” goes like this:

It was June 23, 2002. I remember the exact day because two magical things happened.

First, I was finally released from the box I had been travelling in for weeks. My fellow travellers were the rowdiest, craziest, most energetic collection of hats you’ve ever seen. Oh yes, somehow, I got stuck in the same box as Hike, Bike, Run, Yoga and Adirondack.

Our destination? The Life is Good store in North Conway, New Hampshire. I listened to their competitive aspirations throughout our entire journey.

“I’m going to hike The Appalachian Trail.”

“Well, I will wave to you as I run past you.”

“I’m going to bike the back roads of the White Mountains.”

“I’ll watch each of you as I sit by the lake.” Teased Adirondack.

“Ommmm,” chanted Yoga.

These hats were constantly sharing their dreams and possibilities. Me? I wasn’t quite sure what I was even doing there. I loathed any type of exercise. My dream was to get the heck out of this box.

And then it happened.

The top was slit open. Yikes, bright lights.

I didn’t even get to say goodbye. Jostled again, I found myself snug against new friends, Kayak and Soccer. Kayak looked me over and said, “You’re weird. I can see you are one of us by the Life is Good along your side; yet, you have no action figure on you. What is your action? What does that big pink heart mean?”

I knew I was different, but I didn’t understand why until that moment. I have a big pink heart? “Maybe I’m Love?” That sent Kayak and Soccer into a fit of laughter.

Then we heard talking and children laughing. My bunk mates became mysteriously quiet, and then began yelling, “Over here!” Soccer turned to me and said, “You want one of these people to pick you! That is how you begin your adventure as Love.”

He could hardly get the sentence out before cracking up again. “Pick me.” I croaked. Nothing happened. I watched as the others got snatched from the shelves, jammed onto talking heads and then move away. Snap. Like that.

Then, magical event number two happened.

I saw her. Her big blue eyes danced toward me. “Look at this one. A big pink heart. I love it,” she said, as she picked me up and placed me atop a head of brown soft curls. “What do you think?” she asked her friend. “Perfect. You have to get that,” the friend answered. My adventure of/as Love began.

That first summer was glorious. I got to see her two beautiful boys play in the water, always under her watchful eye. She read them books, fished, and hiked with them. He would come on the weekends, and she was always making sure it was perfect.

Visitors came and went, all with big smiles as she made them feel welcome. I was part of it all, watching from my perch atop her head. I hid her curly, brown hair that she claimed got crazy in the heat. I could feel the love radiate from her heart, right out of her head, keeping me toasty warm from the glow of it. The nights got cool and days got shorter.

I got stuffed in a bag.

It felt like forever before I awoke from the darkness. It was only her. The boys weren’t around. This was confusing. She put me in place, and I gasped. The beauty surrounding us on all sides was stunning. Straight ahead there was a lake that looked like blue glass. The lake was cradled from all sides by mountains covered in stark green pine trees.

The sun was setting with colours singing purple, pink, orange, and blue. There was a lightness in the way I sat on her head in this place. It was a different feeling. We visited this place, Kripalu, many more times over the years. Every single time I could feel the difference in her. It was like she got spacious when she was there. Her lightness would last days, sometimes weeks, after our departure. After which I would feel myself tugged a little lower and tighter to her head. It was a feeling I became very familiar with. I had become her protector.

It started months after she chose me. She began wearing me daily even though it was cold and admittedly I was not the warmest of her hats. I could feel the change in her. She was losing weight. She pulled me close as if she were afraid. And she was. The fear came out in waves when we were alone.

She would shake and tremble and roar in pain beneath me. She would pull my lid lower to hide her tears from those boys. I stayed on top of her head in that cold, ugly room with all the machines blinking and hissing. A room where there was so much white it left nowhere for her eyes to land. I watched her from where she threw me as she vomited. I protected her from everyone.

They saw me first—my big pink heart. I wanted them to know that she was special and that they needed to treat her with love and care. I felt her bare scalp as her hair, that beautiful curly brown hair, began to disappear. I wished I had a soft lining that would have been more comfortable for her, but she didn’t seem to care.

She brought me everywhere. Tightening my strap to fit her head. We began to go outside for walks with her dog and to the hockey rink to watch her boys. I could always feel the heat of her love when they were in her line of vision. Her new hair prickled and tickled me. She was so vibrant after that illness. I went exploring with her and her family. We went to Africa, Alaska, Montana, California, Oregon, London, and Italy. The summers on that beautiful lake where I never left her head as she watched her boys grow.

As more time passed, I began to feel her holding me a little tighter. She was looking down more, and not standing so tall. Her vibrancy was fading away again. I could feel the difference between how others looked at her and how she felt inside herself. It was as if she believed she was not worthy of their efforts.

She began to shrink beneath me. I wanted to scream at her. Instead, I screamed at others hoping to announce there was a human heart below my presence. One that was so much bigger than mine. The more I felt her grip, the smaller I felt her get. Always busy. Cooking. Cleaning. Laundry. Commuting. Working. Planning. Pouring herself into her family.

Then, something terrible happened. I felt the tremor from the center of her Earth. She pulled me down over her very essence. Her pain reverberated into my threads. It was different from the illness she experienced so many years ago—much worse. It was an unclenching, the lifting of a dam pouring pain and grief like a tsunami. It sprung from her every pore.

I stood guard. Everyone she came in contact with saw me first. Her heart. Her broken heart. She wore me, covering her face, hiding those beautiful blue eyes. I hiked with her in New Zealand and to this day I know not where her strength came from. I traveled with her to Australia and Alicante and Madrid. I felt her stand taller when she saw her boys. But each night, I heard her cry. I felt her crumble and make herself small.

But, then, once again, ever so slowly, she began to get stronger. It was a different strength than her illness recovery. She gained weight and stood taller. She talked to so many loving, compassionate people. She was a voracious reader. I could tell her books gave her confidence. She wasn’t wearing me much, but I was near. I watched her as she began to move gracefully through her life alone. When her boys visited, I could feel her glow of love from the chair she hung me on.

And then, we were once again at the place with the beautiful mountains. The ones she always found so peaceful. She places me ever so gently on her head as we are about to hike the Berkshires. She overhears the guided hike has left, and instead, accepts the offered trail map. I know from experience she does not like to hike unknown territory. She is too unsure of herself and fears getting lost.

Today is different.

She is so tall and spacious. As we enter the trail head, she looks up, and for the first time in my life, she turns me around. I am no longer covering her face. I am no longer the first thing that someone sees when they come upon her. How am I going to protect her from behind? Then I realize, she is more expansive than I have ever felt her before. It comes to me like a shooting star, She doesn’t need me anymore. The first thing others will see are her eyes, the windows to her heart. They will feel the light reflecting from the love she has finally come to know in herself.

My work is now done. I am tattered, my bill revealing my innards. I am stained from my dips in various bodies of water with her. My rim that circled her head is worn thin. And Soccer was right, my destination was for an adventure of love. Life Is good. To the beautiful souls that might be hiding themselves under one of my sibling’s hats, I offer you the lessons of how to live your life with reckless abandon.

These are things I learned from her:

>> Allow yourself to experience feeling (good and bad) with your entire heart and soul.

>> Find a place in nature that brings you joy and go there, often.

>> Surround yourself with people that lift you up.

>> Let your love shine.

>> Seek help on your journey.

>> Absorb the wisdom of others.

>> Take that hat off, let your eyes connect to other humans.

>> Let your light shine.

>> The world needs you.

>> The end.

>> Now tell me honestly, do you feel any different about those inanimate objects around you?

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Relephant: 

This is How a Good Life Begins.

How To Live an Extraordinary Life. ~ Kripalu’s Stephen Cope

Stay strong in your Mountain. {Guided Meditation}

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Author: Kathy Washburn
Image: Author’s Own
Apprentice Editor: Kirsten Freeland/Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis

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Kathy Washburn