Scribbled in various old journals of mine are the words I am Fortune’s fool. Not original, I admit, but my journals have the tendency to be melodramatic and what could be more melodramatic than a reference to Romeo’s romantic anguish? I have felt like a fool repeatedly in love, and until now, was not particularly happy about it. But I have experienced a synchronistic turn of events now having me think otherwise.
When I got my wisdom teeth pulled this summer, my wonderfully creative friend gifted me her newly printed zine called Snippet and a little black notebook to keep me entertained during the recovery. The theme of this first issue was “Journey”. A few pages into the zine I encountered a photocopy of the tarot card of The Fool, which I had never seen before. I was then prompted to locate and analyze the various symbols on the card and how that all relates to journeys.
There is clearly the man walking towards a steep cliff, with his head held high and eyes closed, just one step away from falling off the edge. His posture shows no sign of fear or concern, and he does not pay attention to the dog next to him apparently trying to warn him of the potential danger ahead. The Fool carries a white rose in one hand, which I perceived as beauty and innocence, a ruck sack as he is clearly on an adventure, and the sun shines down on him from behind, illuminating his journey. It’s a bright, sunny day despite the looming threat of danger unknown to him.
I have since looked up the symbolism of this card, and it is more or less on par with this interpretation. But what I learned was that The Fool is an unnumbered card, or sometimes represented as a 0, either at the beginning of the Major Arcana or at the end. The number 0 being of unlimited potential. Anything could happen for the Fool, but only something can happen if he takes a step. He creates his own destiny. The Fool represents new beginnings and invites us to take a leap of faith and to trust in the Universe. He encourages us to believe in ourself and follow our heart, no matter how crazy or ‘foolish’ the impulse may seem.
All my life I thought being a fool was a bad thing. But now I was beginning to like The Fool.
At the moment of reading this zine, I was having a strong impulse pushing me towards San Francisco for both professional and personal reasons. I wrote in my journal mostly about how I wanted to be like The Fool on this new journey, this big move to San Francisco and everything it involved. I chose to trust in the Universe and focus on the beauty at hand.
I arrived and instantly headed out to the Burning Man festival, all full of excitement about my new life. There was a pending matter of the heart to attend to with someone out there, and I was looking forward to embracing that. Without going into much detail, I can just say that I didn’t see the precipice ahead, despite the fact there had been a dog beside me barking its warning for some time. Eyes closed, big smile on my face, white rose in hand, I took a leisurely step and suddenly there was no ground beneath my feet. I felt myself free falling off a cliff. I smacked the ground and it hurt. And, ironically, it happened while watching this beautiful sculpture called Embrace burn to the ground.
I was, again, Fortune’s Fool. And there were ashes to prove it.
Later that afternoon I embarked on a different journey with my friends through a massive dust storm, in the hopes to reclaim my Burning Man experience and heal my fresh wound at the caring side of my lovely friends. The dust cloud was fairly dense, allowing just a few feet of visibility at times. There is something very beautiful and surreal about walking aimlessly through a dust storm. It’s quiet and calm and I am left with my thoughts. As I walked slowly through the whiteout, my mind returned to the events of the morning and the heartbreak. I kept thinking how foolish it was to open my heart and allow this pain to happen.
Due to the lack of visibility we walked towards the setting sun that would eventually lead us back to our camp. The sun felt good on my skin, and I closed my eyes to soak it in. Since I couldn’t really see anything anyway, I kept my eyes closed and continued walking towards the sun. I thought about the Fool walking with his eyes closed, and I decided to embrace my new beginning. I broke off a bit from my friends and decided it was time for a self-love pep talk. Gripping the shoulder straps of my Camelback in each fist, I created a shield of armor over my chest and repeated to myself over and over again that I was strong. I envisioned my wolf-woman self, bringing me back to that centered, confident place where I sometimes find myself. My chin was up, eyes still closed, a smile finally breaking on my lips. I was a Warrior Woman, completely invincible.
And then, bang! I got side-swiped by a bicyclist. The girl he was doubling flew (safely) off the handlebars and both were quickly at my side, very apologetic. And I just stood there and laughed. I told them that I was walking with my eyes closed, so it was my fault. I told them about my Warrior Woman pep-talk and my invincibility, and we all had a good laugh. He brought out a bottle of tequila, and I took a swig. They told me a cute story about how they had just met thirty minutes before, and sent me along my way.
The Fool is not so invincible, as it turns out. That cliff edge is a real thing.
The next day my friends and I rode our bikes out to explore the artwork and came across an installation involving a bunch of old, differently colored doors attached to create a circle.
The Wheel of Fortune
We parked our bikes and I walked right up to it, opened one of the doors and stepped through. The inside of this space gave me the impression of an old brothel, and as I turned around in the circle I realized that behind each door was a tarot card. I looked back at the door that I had walked through. And, no surprise, I had unknowingly selected The Fool, who this time was depicted as a masked woman in a beautiful black and white image spanning the entire door frame.
I remember unhappily muttering, “of course…,” and a woman inside the installation laughed at (or with?) me. I teared up a bit, just wanting to go home and crawl into my clean bed where I could close my eyes and stop walking and be safe.
Days later I was back home and reflecting on my week out in the desert. Suddenly all the different moments of synchronicity came together and I thought, perhaps there was something behind this Fool thing. I did more research into the card, and decided that I am not Fortune’s fool, but rather I am fortunately the Fool. I walk blindly and trustingly through my life and always have. And, for the most part, that has worked out for me and I have lived such beautiful and amazing experiences as a result. I would much rather trust people, and myself, than to live my life full of fear and doubt. I am the number zero. I am unlimited potential.
I was so afraid that this recent experience would make me question my judgement or lose my faith. But I am realizing that the Universe is indeed looking after me. I fell and it hurt. But it was the landing of a huge leap forward that I needed to take. The sun comes up each day and I have the ability to begin a new journey. Had I not trusted in my heart and followed an impulse, I would not be here in San Francisco finally moving forward in my career path and reconnecting with my family, old friends and new.
I am not invincible, especially when I allow myself to be vulnerable and exposed (or when I walk through crowded, whited-out intersections with my eyes closed apparently!). But I will not be afraid to close my eyes, trust, and walk steadily ahead. It may be foolish, but I love being a fool.