It's Independence Day back home and I am with a couple of young Americans who make me homesick, Miles and Chris, or Mee-lays and Crease. We are independent, more or less, and certainly free to live our lives as we will. This is not the land of Obama and the rule of the elite back home. Here in Lima we are men of our own making, the dream our our founding fathers for us, a dream now turned to a nightmare, according to me, thanks to a ruling clique of low-rent Philosopher Kings. But all is not lost, as I find in chatting with these young Californians on the road in Lima.
Here I see the smiling face of the future, a man who will in time take my place as the grumpy old guy who sees ruin and wreckage everywhere there used to be peace and freedom. He is Miles, and Miles smiles. So do I.
|Miles of Hats|
Miles bought a hat, and I think of it now as a statement of his freedom as a man, a touch that says to the world, "I am a free man who thinks for himself."
OK, I might be reading a lot into a young man buying a hat, but I look at the hat and see it is made in a little shop in one of the rougher areas of Lima, close to the central market where people work very hard for long hours and little pay, much like times in New York or Chicago in the 19th century when our forefathers had a worldview we have lost in the flurry of easy money and entitlement. That hat is fine, beautiful wool and closely cut and sewn to fit the wood-block it was pressed on as I stood watching the hatter put it together a few days ago. I saw that hat and others being fitted and trimmed and ironed and coddled into a work of beauty, and Miles bought it and wears it, a good-looking young man in a good-looking hat made by a craftsman who cares about it all. Miles has this hat and I think it tells that such as he will carry on in life caring about the value of craft and concern and labour and love. All that in a hat. It's just a hat, of course, but it's a thing of beauty that one man chose for himself to say to the world that he is part of the process of work and love.
Miles and Chris are, I suspect, finding our nation's roots in a far away place where life is here what it was back home before others took it upon themselves to make our nation foreign to its nature. Here in this exotic and strange land we find again some of the values that make our homeland great; and here we might see again what we must restore, not just hats, not just the masculine and the feminine, but the freedom to work and be prosperous by our initiative and skill and dedication to our professions. A hat. It's a beautiful hat that says the wearer knows such things and values them and will, I think, prove himself as deserving of such. How could he not? This Peruvian-made hat is so American that I could weep from joy. It's entirely fitting that it should find an owner in a young American on the Fourth of July.
|Newsboys in the Lower Eastside, Manhattan, New York City. |
A hat. A young man. A bright future of young men donning the careful and mindful work of others and carrying on to the future to do great things with such care in mind. My hat comes off to all such young men and women. Happy Fourth of July to all of you.
A gentle reminder that my book, An Occasional Walker, is available at the link here:
Occasional-Walker-D-W/dp/ 0987761501/ref=sr_1_1?s=books& ie=UTF8&qid=1331063095&sr=1-1
And here are some reviews and comments on said book: