why the fool
Updated: Jun 21, 2021
I’ve spent much of my adulthood wondering if everyone else knows what they’re doing. I am on the stage with the other actors but I’ve been given a blank script and everyone else is reading their perfectly written lines. At least it seemed so until I started asking around. With a sigh of relief, other people admitted their script is blank too. We were all pretending we knew our lines so we wouldn’t get booed offstage. Who decides our lines for us anyway? Is there a casting director who assigned our roles? No, it turns out we are innately worthy of being on that stage just as we are. Let’s throw the pages of the script into the fire and dance across the stage! This is what the fool asks us to do.
letting go of getting it right
The fool archetype is found across cultures and throughout human history because it represents our potential to exist without self-consciousness or this all too common illusion of unworthiness. The fool lives guided by the heart. She lives in, what is called in Zen practice, the "don't know mind." A perpetual question drives the fool to explore, connect, experience. What is that? Who am I? Where does that go? Not seeking right answers, but rather the next question. Enjoying the journey along the way. The ultimate eternal improviser.
One of my dear friends and theater mentors, John Achorn, describes the fool with a story...
a story about a fool
A group of people are in a room together. They are huddled, staring at a door. “What do you think is behind the door?” People give some answers, mostly warning of danger and what happened the last time so-and-so came across a door. Nobody is willing to go see what’s on the other side because they don’t know what to expect. They remain a frenzied flock, frozen in fear.
In walks the fool. She sees everyone huddled together, staring at the door. She immediately walks up to the door, walks in, and shuts the door behind her. The gaggle of people stare in shock and dismay. “What’s going to happen to her?” “That was crazy!” “What if she gets hurt?” “Who told her she could do that?”
Several moments later she returns through the door, licking an ice cream cone. Oblivious to the herd, she passes them contentedly, concentrating on catching the melting delight as it drips down her wrist. The assemblage is dumbfounded, mouths agape as they watch the fool disappear into the distance.
“Look! Is she skipping now?”
This is the fool. For whom the call of a curious heart will always drown out the naysayers, our internal naysayers included.
Welcome to this blog. I am excited to dance across the stage eating ice cream cones together.