• David Unger PhD

Alphabet Series - F is for Foolish




F could very easily be for family, friends or, excuse me, the F-bomb. Certainly our family and friends take up a large emotional space as well as actual space in our life. Yet with all the importance of family and friends in our lives, there is another F word I want to write about today. And that is foolish.


Most of us are not all that welcoming or accepting of our own foolishness. We try to avoid being foolish and yet when we see someone else being foolish it often gives us a good chuckle. Especially when we are laughing with them and not at them. I would like you to consider getting on better terms with your own foolishness so you could laugh along with others.


Most of us are not all the welcoming and comforted by our own foolishness. We tend to avoid being foolish and yet when we see someone else being foolish it often gives us a good chuckle. Especially when we are laughing with them and not at them. I would like you to consider becoming on better terms with your own foolishness so you could laugh with you.


Some of my close friends will know who I am referencing in this post. I suspect they too have been influenced by my friend who I will call Earl. Earl has done more things that I consider foolish than any combination of people I know. Now for some, doing foolish things is not a positive matter. I would include myself in that list. I usually do not like to be foolish. Unless it is by choice. Then I really like it. I am more foolish now than I have ever been and I have Earl in large part to thank for that.


I have mentioned in previous posts that I do not like being inept. I am uncomfortable when I don‘t feel accomplished at something and I generally like to have my act together. Fumbling around and making a fool of myself (either in my eyes or others) is not something I like. And yet, I have come to embrace it. Not all the time, but more of the time.


Let me tell you how Earl taught me the wonder of being foolish.


I need to add a note here. I have put up a picture of a different Earl. This is one my daughter drew on a napkin and who starred in some cartoons she drew at an early age. Her Earl was a bit cooler than my Earl, but I like having them both in my life.


The other Earl and I met in graduate school and I didn’t realize how foolish he was until one day when our class took a field trip to the UCLA campus to study environmental psychology. At lunch time we ate in the cafeteria. I was sitting with a group of classmates. Earl finished before the rest of us and went to put his food tray away. There were large trash cans where you were supposed to dump whatever was on your tray and then place your tray on the top of the can. Earl, unbeknownst to the rest of us, decided to play a prank on one of our classmates. Making sure none of us were looking, he took off the top of the garbage can, jumped into the can and put the top back on the can. There he was hidden in the trash can. People came up to the can, pushed the flap inward and dumped their trash into the can. Then they put their trays on top all the time unaware that Earl could look out the flap of the can and see who was dumping their leftover lunch on him. I don’t know how many people dumped their food on him, but it is safe to say more than you or I would want.


Finally Earl’s victim started to dump his tray and Earl, with the intent to fully freak out his friend, grabbed the tray. His friend did not jump back, did not scream, but did say loud enough for the rest of us to hear “What the hell?” and lifted the lid to see Earl with a giant smile on his face and loads of garbage on his person.


That is the kind of foolish I never want to be. But Earl was so happy and pleased with himself while everyone else thought he was nuts. He gave himself the freedom to do something outside the box and didn’t really care what others thought. It made him happy and that was enough for him.


It was enough for me as well. While I have never reached the heights (or depths) of Earl, having him as a friend has loosened me up. His behavior over the years has continued to encourage me and give me permission to loosen the reins on my critical and proper self and let my childish playful self see more of the light of day. I care less what others think and more what I think. And I think, now and then it is good medicine for me to be a little goofy, inept and foolish. I bet it is for you too.

#Foolish #Earl

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