Musings from the field.

The Unexpected Gifts of Folly

"The soul demands your folly; not your wisdom."

–C.G. Jung

When I think of the soul’s demand for folly, I think of an insurance salesman writing poetry: Wally Stevens in the back office of the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company writing “The Emperor of Ice Cream.” I see a young man expected to enter his career as a teacher or a preacher and instead hiking the Appalachian Trail for six months. I see a married man with no business experience and children on the way, open a bookstore to support his family, sort of, but really to support the mysterious demands of the soul. I see joy, I hear poetry, I sense the irrational and the absurd stumbling their way onto the scene.

This demand of the soul is its way of making sure we don’t fall back too easily on our laurels, that we don’t rely on our dominant strengths, dominant personality type, or our culturally dominat fantasy. The call to folly is the soul’s compensatory function at work, rounding us out, making sure we develop into the fullness that she knows we are capable of, making sure we live all our seasons and kill our bon mots from time to time.

A life filled with the sacred might require more of the mundane from me or you or certainly the monk: singing in the mountains, conversing with fire, talking to a river and finding that it talks back; courting the wind, dancing naked with the sun--what folly to act this way in these electronic times, with emails to read and tweets to type. Folly for the soul to bask in!

Wilder-ness: A place of sacred solitude but also sacred folly! Our true nature more easily spied when laughter, accidents, and the body’s full range of motion: a gallop, a crawl, ticks, and quirks are allowed onto the stage.

Change, opportunity and transformation work in the company of folly. They come out of hiding, peek their heads tentatively or slyly around the too solid pillars of our lives that become softened by all this joy, laughter, silliness, and irreverence. The soul lives for change, will sacrifice all for transformation, movement, growth and depth.

Carl Jung said that God or Spirit “is the name by which I designate all things which cross my willful path violently and recklessly, all things which upset my subjective views, plans, and intentions and change the course of my life for better or worse." Folly and all his children have substantial and often ignored contributions to this growth of consciousness that emerges outside the circle of our best laid plans. For this the soul demands his entrance, and Spirit beckons the fool and his folly to our doorway.


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