I am a fool.
At first it sounds a little self-deprecating, but once you understand all the nuances and what it means to me (which is all that matters to me), it’s actually quite a compliment.
First there is something you should understand about me. I’ve always been a little weird, a little different. Obviously everyone is unique, but I’ve always LIKED not being normal. I take it as a compliment if someone says I’m weird. One of my most memorable moments (and greatest compliments) was when a four-year-old called me “Silly”.
So, back to the fool. To most people a fool is (from dictionary.com):
- A silly or stupid person; a person who lacks judgment or sense.
- A person who has been tricked or deceived into appearing or acting silly or stupid: to make a fool of someone.
- A weak-minded or idiotic person.
But there are other meanings:
- A professional jester, formerly kept by a person of royal or noble rank for amusement: the court fool.
- An ardent enthusiast who cannot resist an opportunity to indulge an enthusiasm (usually prec. by a present participle): He’s just a dancing fool.
I’ve always considered myself to be a bit of a jester or clown, there to amuse and entertain others, and it could definitely be said that I am an ardent enthusiast for laughter and enjoying life.
But there are deeper meanings also, subtext that puts an extra layer of significance into this word for me.
Where everyone else at court was playing games to advance their status, lying, cheating, back-stabbing, the jester needed no status. He was also usually very perceptive and could see the truth of what was going on around him and would speak the truth, covered by his wit and humour. He could even poke fun at the king himself, nothing was off limits.
This is sort of how I see myself as a coach, helping people see the truth of who they are and what is going on in their lives, but doing it in a light and fun manner.
Also the fool, in literature, is often the reverse of what he seems. He is a source of wisdom in a world where everyone else is perhaps being a little bit “foolish”, and he may act in silly ways to help others see how silly they are being.
I never thought I was particularly wise until spending three days with a group of people on a training course. At the end of the course we all had to give an honest compliment to everyone else and “wise” was the one attribute that they consistently mentioned about me. Since then I have had others who have said the same thing.
Hunh – go figure.
Finally, if you are into Tarot at all (and I am not by the way, but in doing research on the fool you will invariably encounter some reference to Tarot) the fool in a tarot deck is a “wild card”. And with the last name Card, I definitely see myself as being a bit of a “wild” Card.
Here are some further excepts from Wikipedia’s entry on the Symbolism of the Fool in Tarot:
- The Fool is the spirit in search of experience. He represents the mystical cleverness bereft of reason within us, the childlike ability to tune into the inner workings of the world.
- The sun shining behind him represents the divine nature of the Fool’s wisdom and exuberance, holy madness or ‘crazy wisdom‘.
- …there is a flower, showing his appreciation of beauty.
- He is frequently accompanied by a dog … sometimes as the call of the “real world”, nipping at his heels and distracting him.
And there are some other elements in there that are quite interesting as well. Honestly, as much as I’ve never used a tarot deck in my life, it was only after reading the meaning behind “the fool” in tarot that I really found this to be a good analogy for myself. It seemed to sum up everything else I had heard about “the fool”.
Wise yet silly, intuitive yet distracted, a clown, a truth seeker, a vagabond going my own way and yet also a leader, to me this is what it means to be a fool.