A while back I was at the mall, attempting to buy a baseball cap to cover my now thinning hair and to promote whatever team the hat highlighted.
It was my luck when the store I was in had a two for one sale; two hats for one price is a steal! I knew I wanted a new Jays cap to join my collection of Jays caps and my renewed allegiance to our local team (note: this was before Reyes & Dickey…) but I couldn’t choose the other as easily.
I knew I couldn’t wear a snapback so that was out of the question (I’m old enough to remember when snapbacks became uncool and were replaced by the now-known fitted caps. I also remember when toques with pompoms were so uncool that I cut my off so I could fit it…oh, to have my authentic Expos toque again…). So it was another regular fitted…but which one? As I looked at my options, my eyes moved to the black and white newly minted Brooklyn Nets logo hat. So I tried it on. And it looked great. My mind went to every Jay-Z song where he referenced “his” Nets, the new craze that everyone had to rep this swag and how much I actually didn’t like the Nets. At all.
It reminded me of when all the rappers would where Yankees hats, even if they were from anywhere BUT New York. Suddenly, the Yanks were EVERYWHERE, even as people couldn’t tell you if Don Mattingly was still on their team! The culture of music videos, magazines and such made a logo WAY more popular than it already was.
And so I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t wear something because a popular figure said it would be cool to; plus, those who know me well know my basketball colours run purple and gold and so I compromised and got a black and white Lakers hat (The colors of the Nets, the power of the Lake Show.).
But I realized something that day, and everyday since. While I am a free man I am a slave. A slave to public opinion. A slave to culture. A slave to my own selfishness and desire to have. And you are too…even if you say you ain’t, in some way you is. Whether clothes, shoes, popular Christian author, type of person you date, how you DON’T spend money, we’re all slaving somehow to someone else’s idea of what works best. And at worst, we’re telling others how they should be like US, as opposed to how they should be like their Creator’s view of THEM. This is even worse when you have kids; to help them be themselves is delicate dance of both pressure and grace.
And the only way to be free is to say no. No to the Jay-Zs and commercials. No to everyone else’s opinion and ideas (or at least the non-helpful ones). Now does that mean we can’t be inspired? Not saying that. But there is a difference between inspiration and influence and I hope I’m inspired to be me and not influenced to be like someone I’m not.