I have this awesome Australian Drover coat… you know, the full length trench coats made of oiled canvas? I bought it years ago, in lieu of rain gear for my motorcycle. I figured for a little more money I could have a coat I would wear in my life off the bike, instead of the standard ugly, utilitarian gear every other rider wore. Back then I had a mean black cruiser style bike and that coat completed the “iron horse” look. Would you believe I regularly had people crank down their windows in the rain just to compliment that coat? It was my ultimate in cool, a bona fide fashion statement!
Attached to the coat was a label that I still keep in the pocket. It reads:
This coat will keep you dry in a hurricane for four hours,
Should you choose to stand in a hurricane for four hours.
The moment I saw that label, the coat had a name. I call it my Idiot Coat. I mean really, who else would stand in a hurricane for four hours?
There’s a deeper meaning to the story of that coat, though. If I look back at my life I realize I have all too often been that idiot, leaning hard into the wind with fierce determination in my eye, long after buildings have tumbled and everyone else has fled. At the time I’m sure I thought I was demonstrating my willpower and courage but in the end it turns out I was just being the stubborn idiot that coat was made for.
I admire the people we call flighty, the ones who smell the winds of change early and move on. Seemingly by instinct, they know when the party, the job, the relationship is over. They bid the folks that matter a fond farewell and drift away with grace and style on a gentle breeze. Far at the other end of the spectrum is me, hours later, crawling out from the rubble of an event gone wrong, bruised, angry and raw from the massive destruction. Good thing I have my trusty Idiot Coat!
After all these years, however, the Idiot Coat is worn and frayed from hard use and, frankly, so am I. My mission now is to watch the breeze and learn to walk away when the time is right. Granted, I may never be the leader of the pack, that eloquent forbearer of things to come, but with a little practise I hope I will be among those who walk away, damp and shaken perhaps, but still on two feet.
I’m also pricing out another Idiot Coat, just in case.