Become Smarter While Looking Like a Fool.
My tale of becoming a graceful idiot.
Written by jack friks
Last Updated: Oct 17, 2023
A damned long time ago, it was a jester’s role and life’s purpose to make the king laugh. The jester, also known as the fool, is a master of finding the right thing to say at the ‘wrong’ or inappropriate time: to make people laugh.
The jester slowly evolved from making the king laugh, to a role of reminding. Reminding the people around him that they are only human, life is all one big game, and it’s normal to see many parts of life as idiotic.
The fool was a reminder of finitude. A reminder of how little it takes to turn one’s natural state of living to a state of non-living.
These ideas largely come from a famous philosopher Alan Watts.
Watts believed that the court jester’s seemingly foolish antics often contained profound wisdom.
By acting in unconventional ways, the fool could reveal the absurdity of current social conventions and seemingly bring out others’ realization to a more flexible and human approach to life.
Although many people thought the fool a fool, he was in reality far from being so.
How does being seen as a fool help you?
If you could be less worried of looking like an idiot or a fool: then you can spend a lot more time genuinely exploring the world and your curiosities. You can approach what you are interested in with a genuine spunk, as opposed to one in constant worry of “How will this make me look?”.
None of us want to be an actual idiot or a fool. Sometimes this is just our temporary fate (which we can overcome). But most of the time we are more afraid of being seen as an idiot than we are of actually being one. It’s an odd game we play with how we are perceived is often the opposite of our true nature.
You may miss something and have to ask a question. People may think of you an idiot for asking such a question, but a real idiotic move would be to carry on pretending like you know something you really don’t.
Like when we are in school and a teacher says some important information, we didn’t quite understand it or hear it fully… the fool would carry on and hope for the best, that such information wouldn’t be needed later. The non-fool would ask a question in the risk of looking like an idiot knowing this is the only path to not be ill informed.
This idea that we can look like an idiot to others while making an attempt of feeding ourselves knowledge, lessons, and information is what exploring your curiosities and learning are all about.
Fighting a losing battle
If you’re afraid of people thinking you’re an idiot more than you are afraid of actually being one, then you’re fighting a losing battle.
In being afraid of looking like an idiot you end up trying to traverse through your curiosity with chains shackled to each and every part of your body. These chains are made of the most strong material there is, no sword or axe can cut you free. It took me much longer than a few minutes to realize that there is only one way out of these chains: which is to use your key. Your key is your brain and your brain is well… yours. So, you are the only one who can set yourself free, free to explore your own unique curiosity: so you can learn what you wish to learn.
Not being afraid of looking like an idiot, but fearing the deep void of actually being one, is a much better way to go about life.
Perhaps you’ll find your own finely tuned approach to being a graceful idiot (I’m still working on mine, gracefully), but more importantly than finding this tune is to recognize that you are far from an idiot in the scenarios people think you to be one.
An approach of saving yourself (and allowing your curiosity to exist) is the direct consequence of stopping to try and save face from appearing like an idiot. You aren’t actually an idiot just because people think you to be one.
Before we wrap this up, I want to present a curious question to you:
Is ‘not being afraid to look like an idiot’ enough to be genuinely curious?
This question is ironic in the sense that you may find it idiotic itself. It’s an odd question, I’ll admit to that. But in trying to answer this question, it prompts another question: What is really going on when someone is genuinely curious?
Quick sidenote: I think the best use of questions may often just be to prompt for more questions, so not every question has an answer, but at the very least: every question has some sort of path to be followed.
What’s going on, when someone is genuinely curious, is much like what happens when your stomach rumbles to signal it’s time to eat “I’m hungry! Put some food in your mouth and don’t stop until we’re properly satiated!” your stomach says.
Curiosity works like this too. You are existing in the world and your brain is paying attention to certain aspects around you, it wanders into different thoughts and oftentimes you see something and your brain says “Hey! I want more of that, we need to know more about that! Go inquire!” — this is your genuine curiosity.
There may be a number of reasons why you’re curious about something in particular, but the brain’s thirst: to know more, is there regardless, and if you’re too worried about looking a fool, or saving face, then you will starve this part of yourself. A part of life that makes life oh so wonderful. The part that lets you create things in the world.
As you may imagine yourself trying to move forwards, I’ll leave you with these two prompts:
Would you be more concerned with trying to avoid looking like a fool, or would you risk your appearance in order to inhabit the traits of the person you were attempting to only appear like?
“If a fool persists in his folly, he can become wise”
Thanks for reading! 🙂 If you read to this point then you deserve a cookie honestly: 🍪🍪 (two for good luck)
See you in the next one!
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