Today, here and many other places in the world, we “celebrate” April Fool’s Day–a day on which people will be playing practical jokes on each other. In most cases, April Fool’s day celebrates letting go and having fun. This day has many ancient precursors to the day including the ancient Roman festival known as Hilaria (yes, our word “hilarious” comes from this word).
The Fool is, itself, a powerful archetype. The Fool has been portrayed in many ways, like this old French Tarot version.
Notice what this image suggests to us: he is dressed in bright colors and funny clothing, so The Fool is light-hearted and out for a good time. But, he also carries a stick with his bundle of goods–those most essential things necessary to him. He travels light, but he is on a journey. There is no care or worry in his face. Maybe there should be. Maybe that’s why he is called The Fool. If you look at his most forward foot, it seems to be hanging over the edge of nothing. In many portrayals of The Fool, as he bounces down the path in front of him without a care in the world, his foot steps over what will take him into a steep fall.
As foolish as this all seems, The Fool stands as what is required for the spiritual life, for one’s true and authentic life to unfold. One must be willing to journey. One must let go of heavy attachments including worry. One must take the next step without knowing where it leads. One must be ready for steep and deep places into which one’s life will fall at times. And, one must trust that out of these deep places a wisdom and insight into life will emerge which WILL change us. No change? Stay at home. Stay at home? Risk never finding one’s true and authentic life. That requires the Fool’s journey.
No one wants to be made the fool, but this longstanding archetype reminds us that whenever any of us experiences significant change in some way, we have been The Fool.
For today: pack light, walk with joy in your step, take a leap, and enjoy the ride!
Ah, the terror of being–or being thought–a fool!
But it’s just as inevitable as death or taxes:
“Everybody plays the fool, sometime
There’s no exception to the rule
Listen, baby, it may be factual, may be cruel
I want to tell ya
Everybody plays the fool”
(Bailey, Clark & Williams–performed by The Main Ingredient, and latterly Aaron Neville.)
If there’s anything that comes with age, it’s the realization that folly is not completely avoidable. “We won’t get fooled again!” Oh, yes, we will…
Thanks for the reminder that while that truth may be ‘cruel,’ it’s also essential to the journey.