Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Playing the Fool: Is Ignorance Bliss?

Thoughts on playing the Fool

In the Tarot, the Fool is the ignorant beginner, the novice. We've all been there. I picture myself that first day of my Appalachian Trail thru-hike, weighing my pack at the Springer Mountain visitor's center. 35 pounds. Not bad. Maybe a little heavy by today's ultra light-weight backpacking standards, but it was better than most. I watched a guy weigh his 73-pound pack! So, you know, not too shabby.

We may joke and laugh about the newbie, but there is something wonderful about that time before anything or anyone could taint our awe-struck view with sobering reality.

The Fool is the adventurer, on a journey of self-discovery to parts unknown. The Fool has everything to look forward to. He may not be aware of the danger ahead of him or just under his footing, but that somehow gives him the power to overcome. If he doesn't know he shouldn't be able to, then he's free to succeed where more experienced soul's fear to tread.

The Fool is also the master. His number is 0, the infinite loop of the journey. When one journey is over the next one begins. It's a never-ending spiraling that is supposed to get us closer and closer to freedom, enlightenment, and joy.

The Fool as the Master knows that there are no straight roads to learning our lessons. The road to self-mastery is wildly curving and sharply angled. It hangs right and curls back around, perplexing the novice, convincing him that he has somehow failed and is backtracking. The master knows you must take two steps back now and again, actually often, in order to take one solid step forward.

If the path is straight and wide, easily accessed and easily completed, there usually wasn't much to learn along the way. Not always, and there are other ways to look at this analogy...more of the journey, no? ;-)

The Fool knows that there is no other moment but now, that time does not exist and yet time is everything. His knowing is on the subconscious level, but it's a knowing all the same. Maybe the little white dog on the Rider-Waite Fool card represents that subconscious, the learned aspect of ourselves?

The Fool is mastering the art of the journey, the way to hike efficiently through the mountains. He's mastered it so well, he can appear to dance on the edge like a, well, fool.

But the journey never ends, and the Fool always has more to learn. There's always room for growth, and always opportunity to be humbled. We may think we've learned everything or know so much, but those can be the most dangerous times.

That is also the nature of the Fool: BEWARE the feeling of being bulletproof.

Someone once remarked several years ago that my Camptrails backpack was a toy for boy scouts, not a real backpack. It's external frame and un-ergonomic design wouldn't withstand any real adventure, I was told. I studied my pack for a moment, wondering what to say, if anything.

I knew this person considered themselves the consummate outdoorsman: accomplished, experienced. A master. My ego wanted to put him in his place, point out the 2,000 Miler rocker and the AT patch; the carefully duck taped cletus pins (to keep them from wiggling out over hundreds, even a couple thousand miles of backpacking).

But I wondered: what would that kind of response accomplish? Other than self-satisfaction and a false sense of superiority on my part? I didn't trust myself to stay humble, to bring up my adventuring in that very backpack without sounding smug and all that. So I put it away and asked him about his latest backpacking trip.

You can see aspects of the Fool in both of us in that story: me, the thru-hiker struggling not to be egotistical about my experiences. Him, proud of what he knew, his experiences and unaware of what he didn't know. Both of us wrapped up in our limited points of view, judging the other in our own ways.

But at one point, we were both ignorant of anything to do with backpacking, true novices venturing out into the unknown. Today, we are both adventurers on different paths, in different places, who love the adventure all the same.

And isn't that the most important thing? The shared aspect of the journey? The shared embodiment of the Fool archetype?

I titled this post "Is Ignorance Bliss?" And my answer is...sometimes. Sometimes being the Fool is mercifully blissful, and sometimes its a struggle.

If you want to dive deeper into the archetype of the Fool, try this free meditation from Biddy Tarot HERE-->Biddy Tarot Fool Meditation.

Or listen to this talk by Jordan Peterson HERE-->How to Stop Rotting Away At Home. He isn't specifically talking about the Fool archetype, but...he is.

What do you think?

Peace out.


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