It’s about time yet again to drag out my Mangy Moose sweatshirt and prepare for football, chili, and a little nip in the air. That old faded and frayed blue article of clothing that Frat Boy (congrats to FSU) brought me back from Freeport, Maine reminds me of how things soften and weather and generally fit and feel better with age even when threadbare. Whatever my real name is or whatever name you choose to call me, my spirit has become quite comfortable wearing the Tom Hicks garment that fits me just fine like an old work glove.
O what a sight were Man, if his attires Did alter with his minde; And like a dolphins skinne, his clothes combin’d With his desires! ~George Herbert
Michel Montaigne one wrote, “I have never seen a greater monster or miracle than myself.” I confess to have been both. Now Montaigne was a French Renaissance thinker who saw himself as the object of study in his book, Essays. I have done the same in most of my writings. In studying himself, Montaigne was studying mankind.
Both of us have attempted to explore our natures, habits, our opinions and those of others. We are both searching for tidbits of truth by reflecting on our readings, our travels as well as our experiences both public and private. Like the old Mangy Moose sweatshirt, the old Tom Hicks outer wear is frayed a little and stretched a lot and the once brown earth tones have faded to gray.
But I have to say I am comfortable wearing Hicks these days. As a teen, he wasn’t always comfortable in view of the fact that he didn’t quite fit me & I was still trying him on for size, testing what he could and couldn’t do. In my twenties and thirties and forties, I packed him around to strange places and subjected him to all kinds of microscopic intruders and the bitter cold of Minneapolis as well as the heat of the Tropics. I’ve had to patch him up more than a few times and he has been broken and rebuilt, bitten by all kinds of insects and once a snake, stung by a stingray (no danger just lots of pain), and cut by various sharp instruments and even carries around a piece of another man’s garment in his overhauled knee.
Both the sweatshirt made by men and the Tom Hicks outfit of skin woven by God layer my spirit with transient but useful armor, but there’s no question that the years make both a little ragged around the edges for now and eventually through and through. Be it a suit of clothes or the body suit, truth really has nothing to do with rags or riches or to anything else in this world and its possible possessions. Montaigne’s writing style is light and untechnical. He was also a striking representative of Renaissance skepticism. I am a skeptic but a positive one.
Myself, I have found that there is a poverty that true spiritual hopefuls discover, but it has zilch to do with possessions or the lack of them or the condition of them on the surface. True poverty is detected by our true selves when we discover that we had mistaken ourselves to be something we were not. This is the biggest of all lies. This realization at first seems uncomfortable because we want to be what everyone else wants us to be. But being who we are is the beginning of real riches. I wear Tom Hicks, whether I like him or not. I have chosen to like him. Truth, which to me is God’s tailor, leads us back to our own closet and teaches us that we must never really borrow anything of value from another — let alone our Identity. Pablo Picasso once remarked, My mother said to me, If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general; if you become a monk, you’ll end up as the Pope.Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.