“That’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”
– Daisy Buchanan, The Great Gatsby
It’s April Fools’ Day, which might means jokesters everywhere are short-sheeting the bed and gluing quarters to the floor. Are you one of these pranksters, silently chuckling behind the corner? Or are you the fool, rolling your eyes and thinking, “How could I have forgotten that it’s April first?”
If you’re the latter, you might do well to relish in that foolishness. I never would have thought that April Fools’ Day had anything to do with yoga or mindfulness (unless I walked into a Yin class only to find Bikram), but playing the fool can teach us a valuable lesson in making mistakes and shrugging them off.
The Fear of Failure
I am the sort of person who weighs my decisions heavily, convinced that there is a “right” and “wrong” option. It’s not fun, and has led me to a Magic Eight Ball more times than I’d like to admit. When I actually make a decision, my mind tends to dwell in the past, and I wring my hands and wonder, “did I do the right thing?” Then I find that weeks later, the issues I was stressing over turned out not to be problems at all. Who knows where those minor decisions might have led me? Who cares? To think about them with such intensity is adding unnecessary stress only to fathom a world of “what ifs.” Indulging in those thoughts creates nothing more than a frustrating and detailed work of fiction.
We all make mistakes in life. Failure (if you even want to call it that) can serve as a reminder that we tried, and doesn’t need to represent the end of the the world. It’s in moments like these that we can learn to accept the circumstances for what they are: minor bumps along the road. And though things might feel a little messy, the car is still working and we’re still making the journey. Instead of dwelling on the “mistake,” why don’t we enjoy our foolishness?
What Is a Fool?
Many of us tend to associate the fool with the feeling that “we should have known better.” In tarot, the fool represents beginning, innocence, spontaneity, and a free spirit. It can also mean naivety, foolishness, recklessness, and risk-taking. Most depictions of the card illustrate the Fool at the beginning of his journey, sitting with unlimited potential. The sun is rising behind him, and he is about to step off into a cliff. We don’t know if he’s prepared or not—neither does he. In one hand, he carries a bag, representing a set of unused tools, and in the other, he holds a white rose, symbolizing purity and innocence. To his side is a little white dog, who serves as his guardian, protector, and personal motivator.
This doesn’t mean that the fool needs to be a child; he or she can be anyone about to embark on a fresh endeavor. Whether you’re beginning a new job, business venture, or relationship, you have to be a little bit of fool. You’re undergoing a foreign experience that requires risks and courage. That often means mistakes.
Mistakes Mean You’re Learning
Mistakes and new adventures go hand-in-hand. To avoid mistakes, or “feeling foolish,” would mean missing out on what might be an exciting adventure. When those mistakes do happen (and they will), don’t let regret or “what-ifs” consume you. They aren’t that big a deal. I know that sounds simple, but they really aren’t.
The point of our mistakes is twofold. Whether we didn’t listen, tried something risky, went back to an old habit, or said something we wish we hadn’t, those mistakes have launched us forward. Not only do our mistakes allow us to grow, but they also provide us with tools to teach the next generation. One day there will be a girl or boy who was just as enthusiastic and frightened as we once were. They’ll need wisdom and the comfort that they aren’t alone.
Feeling foolish is a gift. It provides us with the opportunity to learn and connect with fellow humans who are experiencing similar life obstacles. To be a fool means entering the world with wide eyes and open arms. It allows us to swim in deep waters, climb mountains, and camp out in caves. It lets us move across the country or fall in love.
Instead of pranking someone this holiday, allow yourself to try something new. If you are the butt of joke, laugh it off. These perceived blunders are giving the gifts of strength, wisdom, and empathy.
Happy April first, you beautiful little fool.
Amanda Kohr is a 25-year-old writer and photographer with a penchant for yoga, food, and travel. She prefers to bathe in the moonlight rather than the sun, and enjoys living in a state of the three C’s: cozy, creative, and curious. When she’s not writing, you can find her driving her VW Bug, looking for the next roadside attraction or family diner. She also roams the internet at amandakohr.com and through Instagram.