The Holy Fool
"It's difficult, boss, very difficult. You need a touch of folly to do that; folly, d'you see? You have to risk everything! But you've got such a strong head, it'll always get the better of you. A man's head is like a grocer; it keeps accounts: I've paid so much and earned so much and that means a profit of this much or a loss of that much! The head's a careful little shopkeeper; it never risks all it has, always keeps something in reserve. It never breaks the string."
--Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek
America lost a friend this week; tributes saturate social media, and many of us have confessed to sneaking off to cry, gasp, for a celebrity. I know I did. I've been reflecting on what a tremendous loss Robin Williams feels like for many of us. Most of us never met him, but many of us were deeply touched by his life. In our more noble pursuits we don't always recognize the profound importance of the "holy fool", the mystic who cuts through our earnest, strident attempts at self-improvement and spiritual growth, and reminds us that it is in our foolishness, our playfulness, and our flights of fancy that we are often getting a real glimpse of God. I always thought Robin Williams would be a wonderful person to to play Zorba, the Kazantzakis character whose contagious, infectious lust for life stripped away other's pretensions and touched on Truth more than his serious scholar-friend could ever manage (Zorba the Greek is a must-read. Put it on your list if you've never read it). Robin Williams' ability to make us laugh, at our own fears and pretensions, and at those of our society, and to just stop and play, was a balm on our individual and collective wounds. It repeatedly took us out of our heads and back into our hearts, where we need to be. His death is a reminder that playfulness and folly do not mean an absence of pain and despair, or of our need for support and help.
As we grieve, for our friend Robin as well as for our own various losses, we must not forget to play, to laugh, and to be fools. To quote Steel Magnolias, "Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion!". Let us be Zorbatic, be "Robin-esque", Carpe our Diem, and love life and others well by not taking ourselves too seriously all the time. Let us live from our hearts.
“Every man has his folly, but the greatest folly of all … is not to have one.” -Zorba the Greek