“The person who lives without folly is not as wise as he thinks.” -La Rochefoucauld, Maxims
Folly, after all, sounds like jolly. Which isn’t an academic argument at all. But I’ve seen brilliant people get themselves tied up in their intelligence. I’ve also seen jolly people happily start working while intelligent people crushed themselves with their own thoughtful criticisms and witticisms and superiorities.
I think I’m suspicious of any doctrine, whether it’s of the wise or the foolish (or the follyish? The follied? Folly-ise? Folly eyes?). In college, I ate a fair amount of candy. And apparently halloween candy is a bit like waving your hand at Death and saying HEY ME PICK ME SOON OKAY? Years ago, I realized that I wasn’t very much happier after eating candy. For sixty seconds I had the “this is sweet” thing going on, and then it was gone, and I wanted another. Whether I had another or not, in five minutes my life wasn’t any better than it had been before the candy. I decide to remind myself of all this whenever I wanted to eat candy, and for nine months, I didn’t have any Three Musketeers, Twix, Snickers, or Hershey’s bars. With the exception of a few “Where’s the sugary sweet” moments, I didn’t really miss any of them. In fact I was a bit relieved about the Hershey’s. I’m not sure anyone actually likes them.
Then one day I (metaphorically) looked at my (metaphorically, literally and probably emotionally) scruffy face, and thought, “Wait a minute? Since when did I get so obsessed with self control that I have to sit myself down for a moralistic talking to whenever I want some processed almost food?” Shortly after that I had a Twix, and then another. And, well, onward.
I’m not saying it’s good to eat candy–it’s probably not. (HEY, DEATH). But I think pummeling myself with logic or shame or social expectation was bad, too. I think the world is too wide for me to know all of it. That doesn’t mean learning and logic aren’t wonderful–they are–but it I think it does mean that wonder and uncertainty and good humor are often the most appropriate of responses. And perhaps heartfelt insanity (sometimes called love) is one of our greatest strengths.
People who live without folly are not as wise as they think.
Maybe there’s something important in folly itself. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m open to it. Maybe it’s good I don’t know what it is. After all, if you always know where you’re going, you only find what you know to look for.