Chasing a hat in an evening breeze

suyam By suyam, 27th May 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3tm7ipkt/
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Books>Poetry, Drama & Criticism

In his humorous essay “On Running after one`s Hat”,G.K.Chesterton, a prolific writer and the great English essayist of 20th century, deals with backwards nature of inconveniences and convey the readers a message of optimism towards life's trivial inconveniences. His message reiterates that people should always have “a look on the brighter side” of the situation, rather than exhibiting pessimism to make the entire environment unhappy.

Chasing a hat in an evening breeze


Chasing a hat in an evening breeze

It was an autumn evening. The college bell struck with a note of calling the day. Students and professors start leaving the college either walking on the road or on their vehicles. The wind is blowing gently. A professor, with a hat on his head, was walking along the road, enjoying the evening breeze. All of a sudden, the wind picked up its speed and in the process, it snatched the hat of the professor and thrown it at a distance. When the professor started running after the hat to catch, it moved still farther, as the wind gained its velocity. It was a run-run situation. The dress of the professor got soiled and virtually he was very much tired and felt awkward in the midst of the students. The students, witnessing the situation, roared in to laughter and shouted at their pitch of their voice. The professor frowned at them and this had kindled the students to laugh again and were enjoying the professor`s operation to catch the hat.

Now, the professor could have handled the situation with an optimistic outlook and joined with his students in chasing the hat, as if he is chasing an animal in a forest with thunderous noise and took the entire episode as a sportive event ,in a lighter vein. He could have also considered that hat-hunting would be a sport activity in the days to come, among the elite people. A sense of optimism should have prevailed in the mind of the professor to avoid becoming a lamppost in the midst of the student community. Rather, the professor took the incident with a pessimistic note and got himself upset, as if he is humiliated before his students. The professor could have avoided such humiliation, had he seen the situation in a proper perspective and humorously. Of course, the presumption of idea of hat hunting could be a sport event of upper class, may be considered ludicrous and author too may not be comfortable with the idea.. The author is merely using a hypothetical and interjecting humour in order to make his readers entertain the idea that tedious tasks can be made enjoyable with a change in our perspective.

The above episode is an illustration of how people should develop their imaginative powers to see a more positive side of an annoying situation rather than dwelling on its grey areas.

In his humorous essay “On Running after one`s Hat”,G.K.Chesterton, a prolific writer and the great English essayist of 20th century, deals with backwards nature of inconveniences and convey the readers a message of optimism towards life's trivial inconveniences. His message reiterates that people should always have “a look on the brighter side” of the situation, rather than exhibiting pessimism to make the entire environment unhappy. He justifies his concept of optimistic outlook, with numerous examples in our day to day life. Such examples from our daily life are whimsical and could change a serious situation, punctuated with “characteristically incisive and humorous wit”. Though a few people may disagree with his way of thinking, we can still appreciate his love of adventure and whimsy..

The author begins his essay with a typical anecdote. When the author was in the countryside, his native town Battersea was flooded. He did not feel unhappy with the water engulfing the streets and his house. Rather, he felt that he could not enjoy the site of water flowing across the streets, resembling to be an archipelago, in Venice, being the romantic town built in water. This is because he considered Battersea, to be the most beautiful of human localities and thinks that when it was flooded, the waters would have doubled the beauty of the place and would have made it a vision of Venice. The attitude is quiet contrary to people who would never like the idea of enjoying fire or flood.

The author then chooses to describe about a person who had to wait for hours for the train to come in a railway station and he compares how a small boy enjoys a similar situation in the station, enjoying the sights of incoming and outgoing trains, imagining various things like signal lights to be the new sun and the new moon and the falling of the wooden arms to be the staff of the king etc.

Then he gives the example of the people who get annoyed if, while facing the inconvenience of taking a fly out of a glass of milk or a cork out of a glass of wine and gives the best way how people can make such inconvenience an opportunity for exiting amusement instead of being “exasperated and annoyed” .

The author proceeds to give an another situation that might irritates someone, such as struggling with a jammed drawer or, as the title suggests, running to catch one's hat that has flown off in a strong wind. According to Chesterton, such inconveniences can be managed, as it requires only a change in our perspective or a bit of imagination. For instance, if a drawer of the table, when if jammed, one can pretend that he is struggling with a formidable foe and encourage himself to get it opened rather than cursing idly. If his hat flies off and he must chase after it, it would provide a humorous situation for onlookers to enjoy.

The author concludes that every little thing of difficulty and inconvenience must be taken with an optimistic outlook. Alternatively, an inconvenience is an inconvenience, only if the mind considers it to be so.

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Tags

Archipelago, Hat, Humourous, Imagination, Inconveniences, Optimism

Meet the author

author avatar suyam
Retired executive of Canara Bank,with 31 years experience-Good exposure in Finance,Banking,Foreign Exchange,Credit Management and Risk Management-Interested in English Literature,writing articles.

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