Everybody Should Play the Fool

One of the neat things about Mercury retrograde is that sometimes you get an opportunity to reconnect with someone from your past. Recently I e-mailed the blog link to Sparky, one of my childhood friends, and as a result we had a great conversation tonight.

Talking to Sparky brought back all these memories of hanging out at her house in the summer. She’d call me up in the morning and ask if I wanted to come with her and her mom to collect the money from the videogames they had bought & placed at a local arcade. They would pick me up and we’d head off to the arcade. I felt super-cool to be with them while they pulled the silver bin from the belly of the Frogger or QBert machines and emptied out the quarters. Often Sparky’s mom would give us a bunch of the quarters and we’d run off to play games for a while. If it wasn’t for the Ms. Pacman they had in their basement, I would have never learned how to get past the banana board.

Sparky had a pool where we spent a lot of hours. We would try to figure out the best way to keep our masks from fogging up while we were underwater, and we’d play Star Wars and other games. Sometimes her older sister and her current boyfriend would be at the pool with us – we frequently acted even more outrageous than usual just to get attention.

Since VCRs had just become popular, Sparky’s mom would take us to the video store and we’d pick out a few things to watch while we feasted on chicken patties and chocolate pudding. We watched movies like The Dark Crystal and Legend and Krull – and I turned Sparky on to Xanadu. We were big into fantastical stories.

Sparky was goddamn genius level. She could read at an extremely advanced level and was an incredibly skilled artist. She wrote elaborate stories about worlds in the 4th dimension and drew pictures of the creatures that lived there. She created a cartoon called “Oh for Dragon’s Sake!” that was actually published in a local paper. Sparky’s creativity was boundless and she was the one that encouraged me to write my own stories. Because of her influence, I started writing a story called “Unicorn Island” about a man stranded on an island that was inhabited by unicorns, and another story called “The World’s Greatest Wimp” about a muse who helps a geeky guy become a total hunk. She drew covers for my books-in-progress – I think they might still be somewhere in my parents’ attic.

When we were about 13 or 14, her family moved to the West Coast. I was devastated, but we had already started morphing into teenagers and weren’t so concerned with expressing our creativity.

Tonight, Sparky and I chatted via instant message. We talked a bit about writing, and how it seems so difficult to find the time to create. She actually hadn’t written or drawn much in recent years, and was actively working to get back into the habit. I told her how much I had always enjoyed her writing and drawings. She said, “One thing I’m trying to do now, with writing and drawing, is recapture the fearlessness I had when I was 12 and younger. It wasn’t till 12 that I learned to hide being creative.” After she said that, I instantly realized why we had reconnected at this point in time…and I thought about the Fool.

The Fool card in Tarot comes at the very beginning of the Major Arcana. The card depicts a brightly dressed young man who is gazing at the sky and is about to fall off a cliff – nearby, his small dog is barking and jumping. What’s interesting about this card is that the man looks happy, and the dog doesn’t seem to be alarmed. Based on this interpretation, it makes you ask: is the Fool falling, or is he leaping?

Very young children have no experience of the world as being scary or frightening. Someone has to tell them to not touch the stove or to look both ways before crossing the street. Like a child, the Fool is devoid of experience that tells him to be afraid of the unexpected. He stands at the edge of the cliff because he doesn’t know any different. When the Fool comes up in a Tarot reading, he is telling us to “drop the knowing.” When we no longer look to our fears to dictate how we behave in the present, we become the Fool: trusting that if we leap, we will not fall.

Sparky and I were fearlessly creative as kids. We took the leap into our imagination over and over again, and never felt bad or wrong for it. Then something shifted and we took on the belief that it wasn’t okay to be creative. Now as adults, seeking something beyond our everyday existence, we’re playing the Fool. We’re dropping all of our fears and taking the leap back into our creativity and fantasy, completely trusting that we will not fall.