It’s April 1—April Fool’s Day—a day to let your inner prankster run wild. I’m not going to pull a prank on you today; instead, I am going to ask you to Embrace Your Inner Fool.
If you have never studied the Tarot or think it is simply a tool for fortune tellers, you might not know the rich story embodied in the Major Arcana of the Tarot– the story of the hero’s journey. The Fool is the card that begins the journey. In the beginning of any venture, we start off as Fools. We all are spirits in search of experience. To be the Fool is also aligned with the Buddhist concert of “Beginner’s Mind.” We are open to the experiences that life will bring us, we are ready to dive in or walk off the cliff as the Fool in this card seems unknowingly about to do. Like the character in this card, we gather the resources we have in a small pack and trust that the other resources we need will be provided as we go. The Fool in the Rider-Waite Tarot deck depicted above, holds a flower—perhaps to signify holding the vision of the beauty and sweetness of life or the appreciation of the beauty of this moment.
Many of us are terrified at being thought a Fool. But take a moment and think of the some of the great innovators throughout time. Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) invented an early airplane, machine gun and armored tank. People thought his ideas were foolish at the time. So many recent inventors started off in their garages with people perhaps thinking they were foolish–Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak of Apple come to mind. We often forget that visionaries are first thought foolish because no one else can see what is in their imaginations; only later are these visionaries labeled geniuses, first they are labeled Fools.
When I studied acting I had a hard time embracing my inner fool. As the character, I had to have an innocence and earnestness about what I was doing. I had to be so committed to my actions that others could find the comedy in that foolishness. People were laughing AT the character I was creating. I could not laugh at that character because that meant I was not fully embodying her.
As someone who tried to be “perfect,” embracing my inner fool wasn’t easy. Going full out as a character might not always work but I learned that I was certain to be a a mediocre actor if I held back. As John Barrymore said, “You can only be as good as you dare to be bad.”
Once I was willing to embrace being a bad actor, my acting paradoxically improved because all the energy I spent trying not to make a fool of myself was freed to be in the moment. And once I learned to embrace it in acting, I learned safe ways to embrace it in small ways in life.
Life opens up to us when we learn to embrace our inner fool–when we work with her or him rather than never letting that part out to innocently lead us on the adventure of life.
There is a beautiful quote that was given to me years ago by Caryn West, one of my acting teachers, when she was encouraging all of the class to take bigger risks in our acting choices. I have kept it and use it to remind myself to take RISKS.
“To laugh is to risk appearing a fool,
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out to another is to risk involvement,
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To live is to risk dying,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow,
But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live.
Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.”
William Arthur Ward (1921–1994)
I know that you have responsibilities and commitments. You may not feel like there is any place in your life to embrace your inner fool. But life doesn’t have to be so serious. Your spirit came here to have an adventure, are you allowing that?
In my book From Scared to Sacred, I wrote, “When we cultivate a relationship with our joy. Our hearts and spirits expand and we remember who we are.” That beginner’s mind, that Fool is a part of you ready to take you on an adventure. Whether it is simply skipping through a park without a care as to what others think of you, or whether it is taking that big leap of faith and giving yourself permission to start a business, we all have a need to embrace that energy that is calling us to express our joy in this grand adventure of life.
Sometimes it is absolutely terrifying but if we remember that the Fool is our spirit asking us to fully embrace life, we can take steps that our logical mind might prevent us from taking. Personally I needed this reminder today. Old structures and securities in my life have fallen away and Spirit is asking me to move forward with big FAITH and the innocence of Beginner’s Mind.
Where is your inner fool (your innocent spirit) asking you to take the risk? Can you celebrate your Inner Fool today in celebration of April Fool’s Day?