When you break a bone, it is tradition to have friends and family sign well wishes and blessings on your cast, so that instead of looking down and seeing an injury, you are reminded of the people who love you. It is part of the healing process. I wanted to translate that tradition into everyday life. Who among us doesn’t walk around wounded in some way, broken hearted, or in pain? Who wouldn’t do well having an article of clothing that acted as a buffer against suffering, something to remind its wearer of everything that is good in the world?
I bought a leather jacket from Goodwill and started wearing it everyday. Whenever someone shows me a kindness, brightens my day, or touches my life in some way, I ask them to write something on it so that I will always have a reminder of our interaction. I keep a small notebook in the front pocket to help me remember each person.
The only rule about this project is that people have to sign the jacket while it is still on my body. It makes some folks a little tentative, but it creates a kind of physical intimacy that one doesn’t usually experience with people, especially strangers. They lay their hands on me.
In addition to creating a piece of armor that protects me from the vagaries of life, the jacket attracts people into my life. One woman saw me and followed me across town before coming up to me, asking me about the jacket, and drawing something on it. It starts conversations, it starts contact, it engenders kindness, this magic jacket of mine.