(Hope, blank slate, leap of faith)
The Fool is the zero card in the deck. He is the instant before the beginning. He is the spark, the glimmer of the thought. He stands at the edge of the Earth and then joyfully leaps into the void of the unknown.
He is also trusting and innocent. He hasn't been bruised or burned by the world yet. He not only has hope that things will go well, he also has no reason to think they could possibly go otherwise. He personifies childlike optimism. He simply is that open and hopeful.
The question I need to ask myself right now is, is that wise? Is it wise to be that trusting, that innocent, that hopeful, when all around us there is tragedy and pain? Can anyone retain that sense of joy if she or he also has any awareness sympathy or dare I say it, empathy for the plight of all those around him or her?
If I try to answer that question from my usual somewhat cynical perspective, I say, absolutely not. We are all touched by the patina of suffering all around us whether or not we like it and whether or not we can help it. And so, we are stuck in the much, as it were. Because, how can we maintain a sense of joy if anyone out there is suffering at the same time?
The less cynical and more fool-like part of me says that this is the exact time to maintain that sense of hope, joy, and optimism. The moment we least feel that spark is the moment to most try for it. The best way to do that? Be kind. Find the space inside yourself to forgive the person who just cut you off. Let go of your need to tell of the woman bullied her way in front of you at the store. Relax and breathe when you are waiting for twenty minutes to get served because the person who is supposed to be helping you is spending all his time trying to make time with the hottie currently sitting at the bar. We don't know these people's lives and so ultimately what we're seeing is just one slide in a huge and diverse slide show.
The Fool asks us to take that slide and then let it slide. They, those people, are the sum of their parts. We're just seeing the tip of their live's iceberg and so can't possibly know what they are actually going through that makes them behave how they do.
The best we can do is to make a difference with how we react, how we think, and what we do. With the Fool working in our lives today, we can start at ground zero and make it all go beautifully.
I am reminded about two stories. The first is the one about the starfish. Thousands of starfish have beached on shore. A man walking along the beach sighs sadly but continues on his way. Far in the distance, he sees a figure dancing. As he approaches he realize that the young man isn't dancing. Rather, he is picking up a starfish one at a time and placing it back in the water. "Young man," the stranger says. "What are you doing? You can't possibly save them all. In the end, it won't make any difference." The young man pauses in what he was doing for a minute and then reaches down, picks up another starfish and places it in the water. He straightens, turns to the stranger and says, "It made a difference to that one."
Another story is from Joss Whedon's show Angel.
If nothing we do matters, than the only thing that matters is what we do ... If there's no bigger meaning, then a single act of kindness is the greatest thing in the world.
And the best part? If you tried it before and you fell short, the Fool gives you all the permission the world to start over, to try again, and to get it right. That's the beauty of the zero card. It always comes back to where it started and let's you keep trying and keep going.
To quote the amazing Pema Chodron, "Start where you are."