Tentativeness + Foolishness


Photo Thanks to Ryan McGuire

There is a person in the world that I avoid. And yet I meet this person often. Each time I see him coming, I shudder just a bit. Because I don’t like this person.

I don’t like what she brings out of me, what he pulls from my depths. This person is the personification of pride and, to be clear, of the arrogant variety. I’ve known over the years that I didn’t like pride. I knew before I knew that pride was a life problem of mine.

I knew this growing up and while growing up because I had surrounded myself with people who had similar psychic needs. I knew that one of my life’s goals was the constant attentiveness to who I am and who I am not.

I knew that one of my existing internal conflicts would be the exacting appraisal of my true identity—my true self—as opposed to, in opposition to, wrestling with and reconciling with my false self.

That kind of wrestling-turned-reconciliation produces tentativeness in me. In other words, it makes me react with less speed. And I’m a person who knows things. I deliberate but when I know something, I work from that knowing. I have a sense of things. I say that with all humility…

There are things that I get, things that I know. And when you’re used to getting things, it’s hard to be tentative because tentativeness is the expression of not knowing. Why be tentative when you don’t need to be?

And then, of course, I meet all the reasons in the world to be humble. I meet all the things in me that stand between who I am and my true self, which is, for the sake of my written review here, humility.

Humility is the negotiation between who I am and who I am not. It’s landing on the side of reality. In a world that frames days based upon fantasy, humility is hard to cultivate. Humility takes work, and in a world where commercials are filled with hype, the work is too hard to be realistic.

Between tentativeness and humility is foolishness. Foolishness is the experience of life between some epistemological rupture, where old ways of knowing fall flat and shatter—leaving you tentative—and a better, more precise expression of your is-ness. Your “I really is humble.”

The bridge between those two is foolishness. And who wants to look like a fool much less be one?

I have a memory of somebody in my upbringing using as a bad name “Boo Boo, the fool.” Nobody wanted to be Boo Boo, the fool. Whoever Boo Boo was, the name alone was a commercial against him.

And yet I’ve started to aspire to be Boo Boo. I’ve started to look forward to the indispensable role foolishness plays in setting me up to be, perfectly, wonderfully, humbly me.

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