The Hat of Shame

Man is not disturbed by events, but by the view he takes of the event. ~ Epictetus


I missed my first blog post last month. After two and a half years of writing at least one post a month, I missed one. I couldn’t find the time, energy, or focus to write a post for June because my life was busy with proms, car wrecks, hospitalizations, cyberbullying, graduation, broken bones, and many, many other events.


My attitude deteriorated in this time, along with my tolerance levels, and I hit my lowest point the day before Father’s Day. That’s when my husband had me wear the hat of shame (an empty McDonald’s drink tray propped on my head).


Let me fill in some details. Father’s Day fell on my oldest son’s birthday this year. I wanted to do something special for both my husband and my son, so I arranged for them and my daughter to fly to Chicago to watch one of their favorite shows live. I even added an extra day so they would have time to sightsee, BUT I overlooked a small detail when booking the trip. A detail that was so “minor” (my husband’s adjective, not mine) that my husband, son, and daughter and a few airline attendees also overlooked it—at least until my family was sitting at an empty gate wondering where all the other passengers were.


10:40 AM versus 10:40 PM is not “minor,” in my opinion!


There were no other flights to Chicago with room for three passengers. I couldn’t fix the problem I had created. I felt humiliated as I turned around and drove back to the airport to pick up my family.


Let’s return to the hat of shame. I was frustrated that my oversight cost my family an afternoon in Chicago. I wanted to salvage their trip. I felt horrible about my mistake, and I was trapped in a view that I had ruined their trip. That view caged me and caused me increased irritation with the aggressive and careless drivers around me who didn’t use their turn signals or follow traffic rules. So when another driver cut me off, I used a few not-carefully-considered words and maybe a choice gesture. Which is when and why I was given the hat of shame.


Neither my husband nor my son or daughter was upset about the overlooked time. They actually found the whole situation comical: flight time error and irritated mother. My family knew they were still going to make it to Chicago and with plenty of downtime before the show. The original plan had just been altered—a little. The hat of shame was actually my husband’s attempt to lighten the situation with humor.


I—my view—was making the situation worse than it really was.


My perspective was skewed, and my behavior was foolish because I was paying too much attention to the details and missing the point of the trip. I planned the trip in the hopes of making memories my family could cherish for years to come.


My husband, son, and daughter made it to Chicago, and they made a lot of great memories while they were there (with pictures to prove it). So, I accomplished what I set out to do, and I’m sure the hat of shame will not be forgotten!


Now, if something unexpected happens to pop up in the process of my next memory-making attempt, I will, hopefully, remember these moments and precious smiles, and take a different view of the event.


How about you? Have you had an experience where you could have taken a different view?


Here are some pictures of my favorite smiles. One smile is missing because he stayed home with me. He had to work.

Three smiling faces at Chicago’s Navy Pier.
More smiles on the Chicago train.
A big smile at Chicago’s Navy Pier