All the thief left was a pair of shoes, which Sam picked up 45 minutes South of San Francisco. Everything else – pants, socks, work shirt, countless pieces of memorabilia, familiar fits and wrinkles – were gone.
The audacity of it hit Sam as soon as he saw the broken glass shining on the concrete, but the feelings of loss took some time to develop. He’d reach for something, before realizing it was gone.
The optimistic type, Sam began to rebuild. We called it a re-brand. It was an opportunity to try out a new look, buy the shit he really wanted. It would be a total revamp of Sam.
He bought his first round of new shirts, then went home and washed them. Walking around in starchy, pressed cotton made him feel like a mannequin. Like humans, clothes take time to gather character. A scratch at the elbow. A roughening of the material.
To help with the transition, Sam started reading about Buddhism. Most relevant was the idea that we are more than our material possessions. Sam doesn’t derive meaning from a t-shirt. His essence is more innate. Constant.
That sounds pretty good on paper, but the reality is much more materialistic. Passerby’s judge you in seconds based on your branded chest. The leap to Buddhist indifference was a little much and Sam was thrown into a existentialist crisis of self discovery. The jean jacket he’d bought was still dangling on a hanger. This went beyond clothes.
In any rebrand, it’s important to have a goal. A North star to lead the way in times of darkness. But Sam went into this whole thing unwillingly. A thief in the night, pulling on a Hamilton College soccer t-shirt. But he soon found his anchor.
Narrative. We construct them without even thinking. We assess, judge and make it fact, all from the fenceposts of our own cranium. Sam might construct the narrative that his clothes were stolen because of bad karma. Or that the thief was some type of divine intervention forcing his hand into a much needed rebrand.
Or the truth is much less theatrical. His shit got stolen. There’s no narrative beyond that, no need for the dramatic coloring of simple details. And with that as a mind pump, Sam began to notice other narratives that were unfurling around him, pulling them in to inspect the source.