The History of Folly

David Price
Nov 30 · 3 min read

Image; Dark, by KingaBritschgi/art/Dark-317446062

‘History as a record of the past has been told almost entirely in terms of its outer eventfulness and, in a sense, this is the least of history. History progresses on two levels, a manifest one and a profound one which is irresistible but not fully expressed, demanding to make itself known through the way we shape our lives in the world without, and through the failures and disasters brought about because this hidden, inner eventfulness is not fully recognised and given its due role in the human spirit and its societies. — Laurens van der Post

We have no more freedom than an oak tree. That is, we are free to be who we are or free to pretend that we are someone else. But we are not free to be someone else. — Anonymous

Folly has been my constant companion since the beginning. I’m of two minds, looking at the large role it has played in my life. I know that it has served as a corrective along the way because it leaves scars (I learn from scars). So I think I have to be grateful for its faithful service in showing me the path I’m not supposed to be traveling on, but I doubt if I would have wandered so cluelessly if I had possessed a clearer idea of who and what I was from childhood.

Being good at imitation didn’t help. I enjoyed putting on personas, which is a Latin word for mask or character played by an actor. I was attracted to the theatre for many years, but it’s a bad lifestyle for someone still looking for his central self.

I didn’t begin to get my feet on the ground until my forties when I met and fell in love with a woman who very much had her feet on the ground. Thirty five years later she still keeps me from floating off into the ether. Not that folly was banished. We are both seduced by travel and beauty. She’s not always the only one to offer a reality check. I have moments of lucidity too.

It seems that false identity works the same way for nations and civilizations as it does for individuals. Not knowing what you are and what your innate mission is leads you into all kinds of catastrophes. I think this is where we find ourselves at this fraught juncture in human affairs. We have misconstrued our path on a collective basis. We are due some scars, I regret to say. We need to turn around and go the opposite direction. We need a governance by and for kindness, reverence for the earth, generosity toward life in all its forms.

I can’t say I expect to see this happen in my lifetime, but I think it can only start with individuals. One person at a time.

Pass it on. Maybe we can start a movement.

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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