Most people do not enjoy being foolish or worse being made a fool of. Yet, there is a lot of value in being foolish. Especially for me, if it happens now and then and is of my own desired making.
Some people equate being embarrassed to being foolish and certainly when I do something foolish I can get embarrassed. Being embarrassed is not an overly joyous experience for me and one I try to avoid and yet keep bumping into. It probably has something to do with not being perfect and having unrealistically high expectations for myself. Well, they are realistic in that I do occasionally do things that make me feel proud of myself. Just the other day a colleague asked me if I was gloating and I told them that yes, indeed, I was gloating because I was very happy with something I just did. They also noted that gloating is not something they see me do often and they are right. I tend to keep most of my gloating to myself and it usually has a subdued component. Although I do my own end zone dance now and then when I think I have crossed the goal line.
I get embarrassed when something I say or do does not meet an acceptable level of expected behavior and I get laughed at and not with or get looked at in unwelcome ways. Not measuring up to social standards and demonstrating my less than stellar abilities can embarrass me and cause my face to flush and make me wish I was somewhere else. I don’t like my own critical nature which acts up when I don’t measure up. I have made the peace with much of my imperfections and chalk most up to humanness. Yet they still can hurt and embarrass me as I experience the opposite of my gloating moments.
While I endeavor to avoid embarrassing myself I have found that I do like to endeavor to be foolish. I like it when I can say something silly or have a bout of happy feet. I wasn’t always so welcoming of being foolish till I had a friend teach me something.
When I was in graduate school as part of a class assignment we took a field trip to observe the architecture of UCLA and how people interacted with their environment. At lunchtime we went to eat at the student union. We grabbed trays, plates and utensils and shuffled through a food line. My friend and I sat at a table while another close friend of his sat at a nearby table. My friend is a fast eater and when he was done eating he looked over to see that his other friend was still eating and was not looking his way. Quickly he grabbed his tray and took it to the large garbage bin. There he dumped his foot into the disposal and put his tray on the top of the disposal. He then did something that I considered foolish and embarrassing.
He took the top off the garbage can and jumped into the can. Then he pulled the top back over himself. Watching him I had no idea what prompted that action or what the hell he was doing. Somewhat aghast I watched as various people went up the can lifted their tray and poured the contents of their tray into the can and onto my friend. This happened repeatedly for five minutes. Then his other friend walked over, titled his tray and started to pour the contents into the bin At that moment my friend in the bin must have pulled on the tray in an effort to scare the hell out of his friend. I didn’t see any jumping back or looks of fright. All I heard was his friend say “What the hell are you doing in there?” Then my friend jumped out of the can, garbage pouring off of him and he was wildly laughing. He thought it was so funny that he could surprise his friend. His friend just thought it was stupid. But he did have a little questioning smile on his face.
I could never do what my friend did. I don’t even want to. Even if I timed it a bit better so I didn’t have to wear so much garbage, that kind of foolishness is not in my repertoire. But, I really like that my friend can do that. He has a willingness to be foolish in ways I cannot achieve. He was not in the least embarrassed by what he did. I was embarrassed for him. But, I was also in admiration of him that he could do such an inappropriate, irrational and questionable thing.
I like being silly. It is good medicine for me to loosen the reins now and then and let my foolishness out. I am not very good at it. I don’t do it all that much. But when I do I almost always feel good about myself. Maybe not gloatingly good, but “Let’s not take life so seriously" good. Sort of like the Oscar Wilde quote that “Life is too important to be taken seriously.”