Sunday, October 4, 2015

Still Life With Robin: Umbrellology

Photo by By Kok Leng, Maurice Yeo via Wikimedia Commons
by Peggy Robin

On a suitable day for this topic, I have observed that there are distinct philosophies formed around the purposes and practices of carrying an umbrella. In the main, there are three “umbrella categories” covering the following general outlooks:

1. “Bring the best you have to bear against what life dishes out.” This is the philosophy behind the decision to buy and carry the sturdiest, best-built umbrella available. No cheap, lightweight, flimsy street-vendor purchases for this person, who believes it’s well worth it to own a full-size, windproof model that will last for years and stand up to all the torrents that nature may dish out. The user of this type of umbrella will take good care of it and would be unlikely to lose it. Possession and use of a commodious and expensive umbrella indicates a life lived with prudence and forethought, the mark of a serious person, one in charge of his or her own destiny.

2. “Anything can happen, so go with the flow.” Life is unpredictable: it may or may not rain on any given day, and even when you think you've got things planned, you could always be in for a surprise. If that’s your approach to life, you may pack a small, light folding umbrella – nothing that costs a lot or takes up much room in your bag or your coat pocket – or you may leave home without one and stop to pick up a cheap model from the drugstore or street vendor, as the need arises. If you do that and your purchase doesn’t last long or you leave it on the bus, you haven’t lost much; you can always get another. This philosophy is one of adaptability, pragmatism, based on the necessities found in the details of everyday life, rather than in following some over-arching principle or ideology.

3. “Live life to the fullest, and take the bad with the good.” Get wet if you must, but don’t encumber yourself with things – fleeting, ephemeral, material things – that only serve to insulate you against real-life experience. In other words, don’t haul an umbrella around and don’t worry about it if on occasion you get soaked. Or take a simple approach of wearing an all-weather parka, something light and versatile -- maybe not the best protection but something that you throw on all the time, without stopping to think about it. If that’s too much caution and planning for you, then take your chances and see what happens. Maybe you will meet someone who will share an umbrella with you, leading to….who knows? Leave yourself open to every experience and you won’t miss out on anything. The person who lives life without umbrellas is spontaneous, adventurous, and free-spirited, trusting in nature, fate or faith to open you up to what you are meant to be.

Think this is all too much meaning to pour into the type of umbrella you do or do not carry? You may be right, but it was just a little something to idle away the time on a dreary, wet Sunday afternoon.

Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local, usually on Saturdays but occasionally on Sundays.

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