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Old 04-03-2013, 01:31 PM
hyperskeptic hyperskeptic is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 451
Default Foolery

I received a PM from someone with whom I have corresponded, from time to time. This individual is keeping a low profile, but a question posed to me in a recent message merits some thought and at least an initial response.

It has to do with the concern I've expressed about feeling foolish, especially in my crush on Metis. My correspondent wrote:

I hope you don't mean foolish as in stupid or ignorant, but rather whimsical and impulsive (in the best way).
Actually, what I had in mind was a slightly harsher judgment: foolish, as in old enough to know better; foolish, as in justly an object of ridicule. This is not a matter of stupidity or ignorance, but of immaturity, lack of appropriate self-discipline, a failure to live up to a standard I have set for myself (or allowed to be set for me by others.)

This came up in my correspondence with Metis, last week. She wrote that I shouldn't feel foolish for responding to her the way I did, or even for expressing myself the way I did.

I replied that I did still feel foolish, but that maybe it's not such a bad thing, after all, to feel foolish.

(Digression: I've noted, I think, that she struggles with some of the same kinds of insecurity and anxiety I do, so we have that in common. I wonder, in fact, whether I recognized that in her long before she told me about it; maybe that's part of why I was drawn to her, that recognition of someone like myself. It's worth considering, anyway.)

I think this may be part of my exuberance late last week, that I began to let go, a little, of the high standards I imposed on myself that make me curse myself for a fool simply for having a human response to someone, and that keep me from expressing my response for another person out of fear of being seen as somehow weak or ridiculous.

In Metis' case, there was the added complication of an actual creep factor, since she is a former student. One is not supposed to fall for one's students!

I'm sure it happens all the time, in fact, but one really, quite reasonably is not supposed to do anything about it . . . or even say anything about it.

There is a real, substantive folly in stepping over that particular line. In the wrong circumstances, with the wrong words or with a misunderstanding, it can be a career-ending blunder.

But back to the main thread on this. The point is that, as much as I should forgive others for being not-me, I need to be willing to forgive myself for being a mere human.


Two further thoughts are twined through my reflections on foolishness.

One is something I picked up in one poly forum or another - I don't think it was this one - when I expressed a my abject fear of making a fool of myself. Someone replied that it's far better for me to make a fool of myself than to make a fool of someone else.

I'm still thinking about that one; there's something to it.

The other is a portion of a favorite poem that always comes to mind at this time of year, "since feeling is first" by e.e. cummings:
wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers.
cummings is always a good counterweight to my usual way of thinking about and judging my own motives and conduct.
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