The Fool’s Dog
Every year, I resolve to make a new web site. I do all sorts of epic stuff, and then...well, shit happens. Somewhere in the process of excreting multiple child-sized life forms, I agreed that I would a) keep them alive, b) drive them everywhere, and c) ratchet my brain back to default setting at least once every week.
I don't know where anything is, Wordpress is making me angry, and yet, I can remember EVERY lyric to possibly every Duran Duran song. This does not feel like progress.
Such is the life of The Fool.
As much as the Fool indicates a new beginning, I’ve had my issues with this archetype. It's really hard to put yourself in the perspective of really appreciating "beginner's mind," especially as you get older. It's humbling, and daunting, no matter how exciting it might be, Over the past few years, I keep getting that pesky guy whenever I play around with my tarot decks, and my response is usually "Oh shit, not again." . Really — who wants to start over? Again and again? Does starting anew mean you're getting somewhere new, or does it mean you just haven’t gotten anywhere the first time?
The biggest challenge I think, with new starts, is the stress associated with waiting to make that first jump. You’re just looking at the abyss, and wondering whether you remembered to pack snacks or if there’s anything at the bottom. It doesn’t feel new, it doesn’t feel like you’re on the yellow brick road, and it sure as heck doesn’t feel like the right way to start anything. Much of the time, you don't even know if you'll get where you're going, or even where THERE is. As we get older, especially, we want guarantees, we want to know whether something is worth our time or will make us healthier or happier and we want to know exactly how long it will take, how much it will cost, and whether it's covered by our insurance plan. New starts are for kids. This can make sense for some intentional endeavors; after all, we're mortal (presumably) and need to budget out time and resources. The problem is when when life hands us a journey and doesn't give a shit whether it's in the day planner or not.
In my coaching circles, we call this Square 1. Basically, that’s when everything goes to shit. The caterpillar, when it cocoons itself, dissolves into a pile of mush on it’s way to becoming a butterfly. I’d imagine it doesn’t have a very big brain if it has one at all, but it probably has no idea that it’s going to turn into to something awesome. It just thinks the world is ending.
The same thing happens when we’re in the first throes of dramatic change, except our brains are bigger and we can torment ourselves with uncertainty, despair, and grief. The first few steps are real hard, and most of the time we don’t even have company. At least the fool has his dog.
Several times in the past few years I’ve jumped into an uncertain future--though I do have the dog. If I collected all her hair, I could keep myself quite warm, and her kibble is pretty fancy and probably quite nutritious. Where am I going with this? I am not sitting at home eating dog food and self-soothing by humming Duran Duran songs--because that is totally not the way to go through life let alone rock the whole life coach thing. Instead, I've reminded myself that the whole point of life is the journey and sharing it with other people. And so, here I am.
We all love The Fool because he's the consummate wild card, who can say or do anything. He's full of possibility and definitely good for a laugh at his own expense. A little trickster energy never hurt anyone. So maybe one of the best lessons of The Fool is to remember to be a companion for someone else, to bark up a storm and demand to go out for that walk. Because the first step is the hardest.