April Fools Day! I don't typically make much of
this holiday even though I'm a bit of a trickster.
Certainly, in my days of addictive stealing and
lying I honed my trickery to a tee. But, I have to
confess that I suffer at least equally from what I
call: SPS--Serious Person Syndrome. I can be a
real "stick in the mud." I readily identify with
the "curmudgeon" archetype! In addition, over the
last year or so, I came to the realization that
one of my top core values was "pride." I like to
feel proud of myself--my achievements, my
accomplishments, my creativity, my humor, my
circle of friends, my successes (including losing
15 pounds in the last 5 weeks!) You name it, I
like to feel proud. And, of course, I'm
particularly proud of my 18 years of recovery and
my ability to help others embrace
Now, the flipside of pride--as I
see it--is humiliation. I hate feeling humiliated.
How about you? I hate feeling duped like a
fool. How about you? No wonder I/we work so hard
to build up our pride, huh? It's amazing when I
look back on how--in my addiction--I made a
virtual career out of duping others. I, was,
however, a true fool because i didn't realize how
I was really duping myself. Many of us work too
hard at avoiding looking like a fool. It's
draining and dangerous. It virtually
ensures we be humiliated to
bring us down to earth. (Elliot Spitzer
anyone?) I've also learned there are many ways to
be a trickster without really hurting anybody--or
myself. Have we lost the art of the practical
joke, the prank, good clean fun?
heard it said that the ability to laugh at oneself
is a really good quality to hone and I greatly
admire it in others. Just the other night, I wrote
and sang a song on guitar at a friend's birthday
party. I knew she and the other guests would enjoy
it--and they did!--and I recognized I did it
partly for attention, too. I was a little hard on
myself afterwards because I forgot some of the
words and flubbed some of the chords (that old
perfectionism dies hard!)And, compared to the
semi-professional band which also played during my
friend's party, I felt musically sophomoric. It
was a risk--a calculated risk--to play the song at
all. I could have failed miserably or--even
pulling it off--been accused of seeking attention.
But, I wanted to contribute, and I was willing--on
some level--to risk looking like or being judged
as "a fool." And I'm glad I did. I recognized on a
deeper level, the importance of risk, even in the
smaller things I/we do.
So, what is the
definition of a "fool"? Consider the
- One who is deficient in judgment, sense, or
- One who acts unwisely on a given occasion:
I was a fool to have quit my job.
- One who has been tricked or made to appear
ridiculous; a dupe: They made a fool of me by
pretending I had won.
- Informal. A person with a talent or
enthusiasm for a certain activity: a dancing
fool; a fool for skiing.
- A member of a royal or noble household who
provided entertainment, as with jokes or antics;
- One who subverts convention or orthodoxy or
varies from social conformity in order to reveal
spiritual or moral truth: a holy fool.
- A dessert made of stewed or puréed fruit
mixed with cream or custard and served cold.
- Archaic. A mentally deficient person;
these definitions and have, at times, fit most of
them! Remember, "shame" stands for S.H.A.M.E.
(Should Have Already Mastered Everything). There's
true liberation in being a fool--sometimes, at
least. Imagine: not taking life so seriously; not
being so afraid to make mistakes; not worrying
what others think of you; being able to laugh at
oneself; actively accumulating wisdom. I
remember feeling like a fool in 2001 because I
quit my job and things took a while to manifest in
my life. But they did eventually! I certainly
would have done some things differently but I've
learned from this. Putting on another conference
this year, writing another book. These are all
risks. Are we afraid to risk because of looking
like a fool? If so, what is the cost of that?
Maybe it's not so bad to be a fool.
Fools Day is upon us. It got me thinking--maybe
for the first time--the actual history of the
holiday. Here's some of what I found on the
Internet (and, believe me, there's a lot
Fools' Day, sometimes called All Fools'
Day, is one of the most light hearted days of the
year. Its origins are uncertain. Some see it as a
celebration related to the turn of the seasons,
while others believe it stems from the adoption of
a new calendar.
New Year's Day Moves
including those as varied as the Romans and the Hindus, celebrated New
Year's Day on or around April 1. It closely
follows the vernal equinox (March
20th or March 21st.) In medieval times, much of
Europe celebrated March 25, the Feast of
Annunciation, as the beginning of the new
In 1582, Pope
Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar
(the Gregorian Calendar) to
replace the old Julian Calendar. The new calendar
called for New Year's Day to be celebrated Jan. 1.
That year, France adopted the
reformed calendar and shifted New Year's day to
Jan. 1. According to a popular explanation, many
people either refused to accept the new date, or
did not learn about it, and continued to celebrate
New Year's Day on April 1. Other people began to
make fun of these traditionalists, sending them on
"fool's errands" or trying to trick them into
believing something false. Eventually, the
practice spread throughout Europe.
Problems With This Explanation
There are at least two difficulties with this
explanation. The first is that it doesn't fully
account for the spread of April Fools' Day to
other European countries. The
Gregorian calendar was not adopted by
England until 1752, for example, but April Fools'
Day was already well established there by that
point. The second is that we have no direct
historical evidence for this explanation, only
conjecture, and that conjecture appears to have
been made more recently.
Constantine and Kugel
Another explanation of the origins of April
Fools' Day was provided by Joseph Boskin, a
professor of history at Boston University. He
explained that the practice began during the reign
of Constantine, when a group
of court jesters and fools told the Roman emperor
that they could do a better job of running the
empire. Constantine, amused, allowed a jester
named Kugel to be king for one day. Kugel passed
an edict calling for absurdity on that day, and
the custom became an annual event.
"In a way," explained Prof. Boskin, "it was a
very serious day. In those times fools were really
wise men. It was the role of jesters to put things
in perspective with humor."
This explanation was brought to the public's
attention in an Associated Press article printed
by many newspapers in 1983. There was only one
catch: Boskin made the whole thing up. It took a
couple of weeks for the AP to realize that they'd
been victims of an April Fools' joke
It is worth noting that many different cultures
have had days of foolishness around the start of
April, give or take a couple of weeks. The Romans
had a festival named Hilaria on March 25,
rejoicing in the resurrection of Attis. The Hindu calendar
has Holi, and the Jewish
calendar has Purim. Perhaps there's
something about the time of year, with its turn
from winter to spring, that lends itself to
Observances Around the World
April Fools' Day is observed throughout the
Western world. Practices include sending someone
on a "fool's errand," looking for things that
don't exist; playing pranks; and trying to get
people to believe ridiculous things.
The French call April 1 Poisson d'Avril,
or "April Fish." French children sometimes tape a
picture of a fish on the back of their
schoolmates, crying "Poisson d'Avril" when the
prank is discovered.
you made a fool of yourself lately? When was the
last time? What's the possible gain? Maybe
it's okay to
A shopping trip has put Winona
Ryder in the news again recently.
The 36-year-old actress was spotted leaving a
Hollywood store with make-up on her that she
hadn't paid for, according to a US report.
Actress Winona made headlines six years ago,
when at the peak of her career she was convicted
of shoplifting $2,000 worth of clothing from a
Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills.
Now in a new incident, according to America's
National Enquirer magazine, the Girl Interrupted
star recently set off the security alarm at
Hollywood CVC Pharmacy after making several
According to the publication, when she left the
store, she set off an alarm that drew the
attention of a security guard.
A store employee is quoted as saying: "Winona
had a bag of stuff, but she set off the theft
alarm when she left the store.
"When a security guard stopped her, he found
make-up she had not paid for."
And when she was asked about the make-up,
Winona answered: "I don't know how that happened."
The store employee added: "We took unpaid items
back and she left the store."
Winona's publicist at first denied the incident
took place. But when told a store employee had
confirmed it, said she would check with her again.
In Winona's past shoplifting scandal back in
2002, she claimed as part of her defence that she
stole from a Beverly Hills store to prepare for a
But the court found her guilty, and she was
sentenced to three years probation and 480 hours
of community service.
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