the monk in sheep’s clothing

Flock of sheep, New Zealand, Pacific

I think I’ve heard that in Texas they have a phrase… “all hat no cattle”…that means that someone is pretending to be something they’re not.

From all outward appearances, you might think they own a big spread…but the reality of the situation is that they only have a talent for playing a part.

They’re only good at shopping for nice hats.

On the other end of the spectrum is the person who is hiding a secret ability or achievement behind an unassuming countenance.

They might be a straight-laced hippy in a business suit…the theologian in a McDonald’s uniform…the physicist pushing a mop…anything really that would inspire a “you’re what?!!” reaction if we knew their secret.

I think that as I get older I appreciate the low-key, hide in plain sight approach a lot more.

It’s flashy and obvious to be one of the people who are “all hat”.  It’s the easiest part of a transformation to get the costuming part of it down.

But something deeper…something with some long-term commitment to it…that’s what really captures my imagination.

Something beyond just some guy wearing a big hat.

I’ve known some really cool “counterculture” folks in my life….most of whom, except for maybe a well placed secret tattoo (on their skin…or on their spirit)… or a really eclectic book collection, wouldn’t seem any different than anyone else walking down the street.

I’ve known some “hippies” who were real uptight jerks. All they had going for them was a carefully cultivated crop of dreadlocks….they were “all hat”, for sure.

I guess that what I’m saying is that appearances really are pretty deceiving.  We can dress the part and sometimes that’s as far as it goes…a carefully manicured image that doesn’t have anything to back it up.

What’s kind of strange about this whole situation is that often times, even though I know what the game can be, the person who looks the part is the one that I suspect fits the part.

I’m fooled by a “good costume” just as much as the next guy.

I’m fooled because I just don’t have the time to try to understand what a person is really about.  I only have the time to make a snap judgement based on their appearance…or the part of them that they’re willing to portray….much like I have to decide if that dog wagging its tail is excited because he might have a chance to bite me when I step out of the mail jeep….or if he really is “just happy to see me”.

We don’t know who anyone is, really.  We know what we think they are based on appearances…we know what we think they are because of our conception of them…but we don’t know them.

I guess that’s what makes it all so interesting.  We’re given the opportunity on occasion to meet someone brave enough to share “who they really are”…and sometimes we still like them even after the “truth” comes out.

It’s hard to put a value on the invisible.  Spirit, intelligence, creativity, warmth, humor….the sometimes quiet parts of a person that lie somewhere underneath the surface…are qualities that are hard to market.

It’s harder to sell than a “big hat”…but that’s where the real value of a person can be found.

image from here.




About Peter Rorvig

I'm a non-practicing artist, a mailman, a husband, a father...not listed in order of importance. I believe that things can always get better....and that things are usually better than we think.

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