A fool’s journey

With wonderful synchronicity, this morning before sitting down to write a post about scouting for killer whales with researcher, educator and conservationist Peggy Stap, I shut my eyes and picked a card from my Tarot deck. When I opened my eyes, I saw that I held the Fool in my hand. For a wonderful overview of the Fool, read Brigit Esselmont’s Biddy Tarot website from which the following passage and picture is taken:

“The Fool Tarot card shows the highest potential for your life, reaching a state of renewal and new beginnings, where each day is an adventure and each moment is lived to the fullest. The Fool card represents the beginning of all creativity and a desire to accomplish new goals (or to, at least, start the process of working towards those goals). The Fool indicates that anything can happen and the opportunities are just waiting to be taken advantage of… The Fool is all about new experiences, personal growth, development and adventure. The Fool Tarot card asks you to take a ‘leap of faith’ and to trust in the Universe that if you begin a new journey, you will find success… The Fool encourages you to believe in yourself and follow your heart no matter how crazy or foolish your impulses may seem.”

Brigit Esselmont, www.biddytarot.com

I can happily state that Peggy Stap is indeed a Fool. I can equally happily state that these days I welcome the Fool within me more readily and, with that in mind, the rest of this post will once again slide away from its original direction into a reflection about Fools, mottos, and stepping off of mountains.

“Love and gratitude, may something wonderful happen today…”

This is the motto that Peggy lives by. Every day; not just on the good days. Through the highlights, the lowlights, and all those days in-between that are not quite one thing or another but which constitute a major portion of many people’s lives.

Peggy’s Foolish approach to her life is a choice which she reaffirms in thought and action each day. And I am sure it makes a difference. She welcomes wonder into her life, believes in its existence, looks out for its appearance, and is always grateful for it when it shows up. It creates a certain kind of buoyancy inside her which in turn cultivates energy, passion and a very generous heart. I am sure it helps her retain a loving, grateful and relatively happy inner state, regardless of what the external world is doing.

Because of course, her ability to recognize love, give thanks and cultivate an air of positive expectancy about life, does not create wonderful results all of the time. Peggy has her share of difficulties, challenges and hard times. She is not some seemingly luck-filled person blessed with living in an ivory tower of perpetual happiness and fulfillment. Like the Fool, when she steps off of a mountain, it is just as likely that she will fall as it is that she will fly. She lives in the real world that we all live in; one filled with hardship and pain as much as it is filled with joy and wonders.

The magic of living like Peggy and the Fool, which anyone whose experiences in life have given them the bravery, openness and heart-fullness to appreciate, is subtle yet very real. They have the ability to sail through the storms of life without jumping overboard, hiding in the galley or murdering their shipmates, and can emerge into the glory of a sun-drenched ocean of turquoise waters, with the capacity to appreciate its unending beauty still miraculously intact.

Peggy’s simple motto and the image of the Fool are gentle reminders of the power to choose which we all have inside us. The Fool is in every one of us as we begin the journey of our lives and is with us on each step of the journey, if we allow ourselves to experience life through the Fool’s eyes and choose as he would choose. Every single day we make choices and every single day our choices shape the person we become tomorrow. We may not always think we have a choice, we may feel that we have little control over our lives and believe we are at the mercy of more powerful people, organisations, companies, governments, or even aliens. But still, underneath the external comings and goings of our surface life, are the subtle undercurrents of our existence, and it is here that we always have a choice and we exercise this choice in every moment of our life’s unfolding.

The Fool, in my as yet beginner’s understanding of this Tarot archetype, chooses life wholeheartedly no matter what it throws at him. The Fool has an innate understanding that life is a journey that must be lived and learnt in every single step. The Fool may be naive and indeed have much to learn on the path, (about the inherent danger of stepping off of mountains for instance), but he accepts the challenge of doing so with love and gratitude for the opportunity to live, feel, think, learn and become. There is no doubt that the Fool will get hurt, burned and lost along the way, but his faith in the essence of life will sustain him and help him to choose the light-filled path. The Fool will come to learn about the darker sides of life, especially the darker traits of human character, but this will not deter him. He instinctively feels that life, with all its contradictions and apparent darkness, is part of a much larger picture and he knows that he will only grow to perceive the full picture one small step at a time.

Now, to meander vaguely back in the direction of where this post began… I am not sure what Peggy will make of being likened to a Fool… I think most probably she will say she is more of a fool than a Fool and fall into one of her endearingly contagious fits of laughter!

I am sure that I have told her I will get round to writing about our time searching for killer whales in Monterey Bay soon. So, I promise that my next post will feature Peggy, Whiskie the Whale Spotter, me, some Marine Life Studies volunteers, a boat, some brightly coloured safety suits, hundreds of dolphins, a couple of killer whales and a ton of rain… Hmm, who am I kidding? It will probably be along those lines… Well maybe, who knows for sure? But please, do come back again to read all about that venture or something equally Foolish.

For now, I cannot resist the beauty of Mohamad Rumi’s words, floating to us across 800 years of history, to complete this Fool’s journey of a post. I tentatively believe that it is this unassuming little truth which brought you, Peggy, me and all of us Fools here to undertake the journey in the first place:

“If you have illusions about heaven lose them. The soul heard of one attribute of Love and came to earth. A hundred attributes of heaven could never charm her back. It is here the soul discovers the reality of Love.”

‘Rumi – Whispers of the Beloved’, translated by Maryam Mafi and Azima Melita Kolin


2 thoughts on “A fool’s journey

  1. Amanda – this post has so made my day! It’s so insightful, beautifully written and such a treat to read – and so full of things that have been hazily swirling around my head lately, but which your voyage of exploration has clarified so perfectly for me… A Fool’s Journey – stepping off mountains; the risks and the hope, the essential open-heartedness, the pitfalls, the holding on… What a *wonderful* way to express it all! It reminds me of the role of the Fool in Shakespeare’s plays – always there to point the way towards – and to underline – the Truth…

    And the Rumi quote too… Beautiful – and so apt. Perfect! Thank you…


  2. Hi Melanie, Thank you as ever for your kind and thoughtful words, they do mean a lot to me. Yes, learning about Fools and other such archetypes is something I am fascinated in at the moment. There is a great MA course in California for studying mythology, archetypes and the many other symbols that sit in our collective unconscious and underlie so many of the world’s mythological and religious stories… Who knows, once I have completed my immigration into America and can finally live and work there with my husband, I may one day get the chance to study on it. That possibility is one of the mountain peaks I would like to aim for! Amanda x

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