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  • Writer's pictureKelly Marks

Playing the Fool

We often ask little kids what they want to be when they grow up. We hear things like: doctor, nurse, fireman, teacher, policeman, etc.

Every once in a while, you will hear an answer like Spider Man or Cinderella, and then sometimes you’ll hear a really crazy answer like a tax accountant or systems analyst. Hopefully those are the kids who are just copying something they’ve heard instead of hanging their hats on such practical dreams at an early age.

I think when I was little, I first wanted to be Laura Ingalls, and second, I wanted to be a teacher. In my mind, I figured if I could teach in a one-room schoolhouse, I could do both at the same time.

As we reach adulthood, most of us settle into a job that pays the bills when we realize that becoming a professional photographer, or prima ballerina takes a lot longer than we allotted for in our savings account. Paying the bills is not a bad thing at all, and it is certainly not the “You gave up on your dreams” bad rap that you hear in the movies.

A friend just forwarded me an article that made me rethink what I want to be when I grow up. The article, by Tish Harrison Warren, is from the New York Times, and it’s about Ted Lasso, a TV show on Apple TV. There are very few shows that are universally so well liked.

I’ll give you the briefest of summaries in case you haven’t seen it. The eponymous Ted Lasso is an American football coach hired by the owner of an English soccer team. The owner hopes that Lasso’s lack of knowledge will lead to a failure of the team.

And then Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) arrives. He’s folksy, humorous, honest, humble. He’s more concerned about the players as human beings, than he is about winning. For that reason, the fans hate him, the media hates him, just about everyone hates him.

All of this rolls off his back, never seeming to get him down. He continues to love people and spread kindness despite their subterfuge and attempts to derail any progress he might make. And this is why the article points out that this makes him the religious archetype of “a modern day holy fool.“

I had to look this up; since Baptists don’t abide foolishness, a “holy fool“ is beyond comprehension. It seems to be more routinely found in Russian orthodoxy. The article describes the concept in the following way, “The holy fool is a person who flouts social conventions (getting ahead/winning) to demonstrate allegiance to God (showing love and kindness)… Rejecting respectability, and embracing humility and love, holy fools are so profoundly out of step with the broader world that they appear to be ridiculous… And yet, they teach the rest of us how to live.”

So the next time someone asks what you want to be when you grow up, a good answer might just be a Holy Fool.

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