The Endless Hats
When I was a child I read a children’s story about a man who was given a gift of a hat.
This was no ordinary hat. Oh, no. This was surely a very magic hat. Whenever he took off this hat, another would magically appear on his head. The new hat would be different than the previous one.
This was very exciting for the man. He kept taking off hat after hat, as I recall the story went, and each time another one appeared on his head.
I guess this was a little like playing with a new toy. After the initial excitement wears off, the toy loses its luster. The hat game soon became boring. In fact, the man soon became irritated with this seeming blessing because he couldn’t go to bed without a hat on his head. Visiting with friends was uncomfortable because he could not take off his hat as a sign of respect. Problems with taking a shower and washing his hair were insurmountable.
The magic of the endless hats was a little like the short story of “The Monkey’s Paw”. It seems that every action has a consequence.
I, for one could not understand the issue here. To my young mind there was no down side to the story except that the man never took advantage of the endless hats by setting up a business and becoming the world’s largest distributor of unique one-of-a-kind hats. I don’t remember the ending to the story, but I do remember it didn’t end with the man making any money. Sad.
And I got to thinking that it would be truly magnificent if the five dollar bill I had in my pocket that morning on my way to school could turn magically into an endless five dollar bill. You know, renew itself. I could take it out of my pocket, and a new one would appear in its place. I would never run out of money.
Buying something big like a car might be a challenge because it would take quite a long time to take out enough five dollar bills, but that didn’t matter. I would be happy to do it anyway.
The other problem might be that I could never tell anyone about this great gift. If anyone found out, I might have a problem… I could get kidnapped and the kidnappers could turn me into the Golden Goose. I would be caged and people would be putting their hands in my pocket all day and night, taking out five dollar bill after five dollar bill until I became old and died, and I would never get to enjoy this blessing.
So, after all, I decided from a young age that such a magical thing as an endless hat or a five dollar bill that keeps coming, and things like this that seem too good to be true, are better left in a children’s story, not in real life, because in this world there are consequences. We rarely see the potential consequences of doing something no one has done before. Understandable. And yet we wish for things that we may not be able to handle or cope with.
So, what’s the answer? Should we stop wishing, hoping, dreaming, fantasizing?
That’s a question perhaps for someone wiser than me. But I do have an opinion on the matter. It’s this… since the odds of having a fantasy come true are quite slim, and there’s really no harm in setting aside the harsh reality of the real world for a moment or two each day, and sometimes we should reach out to try to grasp what the world once thought unattainable, what harm can there be in trying?
I say, reach out. I say try. And if you should actually attain the unattainable, reach the unreachable, win the unwinnable… I would take my hat off to you.