Some days, I feel like a fool.
A silly, young, pathetic, naïve little fool.
I have days where I can’t get it together. Days where, try as I might, I can’t make my senses work in tandem to produce results. I can’t find the club soda in the bottom of the machine, even though I’ve just watched it fall out of the rungs in front of my eyes. I can’t help but get to work exactly six minutes late. I can’t cook red meat without setting in on fire and drying it out like a brillo pad. I can’t remember to put my gym shoes in my bag—twice.
Some days, I spell ‘restaurant’ wrong, over and over and over again, even though I’ve been spelling that shit out my whole damn life.
Some days I try too hard. Some days I think people are being awful, when really, they’re just being… people.
I hate feeling foolish.
Somewhere along the line, I learned to associate foolishness with weakness. Playing the fool. Acting ‘a fool. You sure fooled me. “That there’s fool’s gold.” To be a fool was to be willfully pathetic.
In my quest to be bold, I’m learning a lot about what it means to fail, and to be fooled. Failure is such a terrifying absolution—one that feels so finite, so done, with no hope of undoing. Failure is the dreaded end that comes at the hand of foolish choices. And of course, foolishness is the gas that fuels the fire of failure.
Don’t you ever just get sick of the eminence of failure? Doesn’t your neck ever get tired of watching your back all the time?
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I’m a damn fool.
I’m the kind of fool that gives money to people who ask for it on the street. I’m the kind of fool that thinks things will come together. I’m the kind of fool that asks questions I already know the answer to, just because it helps me a little bit to hear it said aloud once or twice. I’m a fool in love, in war, and in the wine store. I buy the $15 bottle because the label’s pretty and I like to feel fancy on a Sunday night. Sue me.
But here’s something I’m learning: there’s a little bit of fool in EVERYONE.
There’s the organic fool, who pays three times market value for food at Wealthy Living, because it makes them feel better to “know what’s on their plate.” (I can tell you what’s on my plate too—five Dove Dark chocolates, a hunk of Cabot cheese, and some spilled wine—heavy on the GMO). There’s the birth control free fool, the grin and bear it fool, the speed dating fool, the gambling fool, the up in da club fool, riding dirty fool, the religious resurrection fool, the let it ride fool, and the worst fool of all—the self-important fool.
I’ve known a few of each of these in my life, and I’ve been them myself more times than I’d like to admit. I’ve kept them as friends, colleagues, teachers, and enemies, and I’ve foolishly let them ride out their faults, thinking they might turn it around. We never do.
Know this: people will let you down. They will toss you aside, or maybe just edge you out politely. Later on down the road, they might even run back to reclaim you, grappling around feverishly in the dark once they’ve realized what they’ve lost. The trick to compassion is learning how to balance this omnipotent assurance with your own self-respect. How to love, without ceasing to be loved.
Know this: fault happens. Foolish choices happen, and then the aftermath happens, and everything goes off just the way you failed to plan it. Foolish choices? They’re a thing, but they aren’t mistakes. They’re gloriously ugly, cracked, edgy, chipped out pieces of the grander mosaic of your life. You’ll cut your finger on them every now again, but you’ll put on your big gal band-aid and move on—onto the next foolish mess.
Some days I feel like a fool, but there’s a boldness in knowing, and in being willing to admit and accept my foolish status. When being a fool means allowing yourself to fully open up to the wholeness and wildness that comes with trial, error, wisdom, and chance, foolishness gives way to certainty—the ability to accept your shortcomings, and embrace your power.
“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”
-The wisest of words from the grandest fool of all.