Careful Foolishness

Careful Foolishness

Within most great stories of literature and mythology, there is a character who is the focal of the story and we call them the hero. The hero is the character who we identify ourselves with and they are the person we track the story through the eyes of. An example of some contemporary hero figures are Spiderman, Harry Potter, and Luke Skywalker. Today, however, we are going to be discussing not the hero, but a figure who similarly appears in most popular myths and stories, and we refer to them as the fool. The fool is characterized by their haphazard behaviors in relation to their attempts to find truth, and the folly that accompanies their silly antics, off-beat sense of humor, and recurring failures. Some examples of the fool would be characters like Dori from Finding Nemo and Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio.

The reason a discussion of the fool is important in the context of addiction recovery is due to the value that can be extracted from this particular theme and motif. The fool, although always providing ample comic relief, also plays another role in these stories, which is that they typically see the hidden truths before the hero character or anyone else is able to. This is interesting as well because Joseph Campbell, an expert on mythology, points out that the fool character is actually the figure that most closely embodies what is called the “Self” in psychological language. The Self, in simple terms, is the representation of all the possibilities of what we could be. It is an internal image we have inside of us that guides us through life by showing all the possibilities of what we could be should we decide to take action and seek it out.

So what is the point? The point is that there is a lot of value in acting like a fool so long as we are careful. The fool is the person who is willing to seek out truth and engage in new behaviors, perspectives, and even identities. The reason they are referred to as fools is because whenever we try to engage in something new and potentially scary or dangerous, chances are we are going to fail. In sobriety, it is imperative that we allow ourselves the freedom and compassion to try and to fail as this is part of the growth process. The careless fool, however, is the fool who doesn’t learn from their mistakes; the careful fool, on the other hand, is willing to learn from their mistakes while still having the courage to get out there and look foolish! We need to be mindful when walking the tightrope of the fool because past a certain threshold, we become the hero, but if we fail to navigate with care and patience, we doom ourselves to repeat the same mistakes over and again.


Tree House Recovery of Orange County, California is a premier men’s addiction treatment facility that uses eight different modalities to help our men become the best versions of themselves they can be. We teach our men that every day of their journey is something to celebrate, and that recovery isn’t a sprint– it’s a marathon. To get started with Tree House Recovery, call us today at (855) 202-2138.

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