How to Be a Complete Fool

Anyone can be a fool. This much is clear.

But it’s not enough. You want to be a complete fool.

You show early promise in your teens, before you get distracted for 30 years. But now you are really committed. You are determined to be certified.

You are a serious fool.

You feel incomplete. Even though you have everything you need. You live in a tree house and commute to work on your unicycle. You park in your designated ‘unstabled’ spot. A yellow balloon follows you wherever you go, its little string waggling behind it. But it still feels like something is missing.

It’s clear that you’re going to need to take it to the ‘next level’ if you really want to crackpot the glass ceiling. You decide to sign up for a class called Completely Transform Yourself Now! at the local community center. Perhaps this is the key to becoming the complete fool that you know you are destined to be?

What could possibly go wrong?

You tell anyone who will listen — your family mostly, that there are sure to be setbacks on any epic journey of personal transformation. You are right about that.

On your way to the Completely Transform Yourself Now! class, you experience a setback. You hit a bump in the road and abruptly come off your orange unicycle.

You are an unfortunate fool

Tumbling to the ground, your yellow balloon bursts like a bubble. Pop.

You hate it when that happens.

Lucky for you, the topple from your cycle is not so far to fall. It’s nothing like that time when you hurtled down from your flaming tower. It is really no big deal to fall off a little unicycle. You get up and dust yourself off. The bells tinkle as you fasten your hat back on.

You are a jaunty fool.

As you climb back on your cycle, you experience another setback. Your tire is flat. You give your unicycle a full-body pat down in search of a spare, but it looks like they don’t carry spares. You begin to feel deflated.

You hate it when that happens.

You are struck with a jolt of sad truth. Back when you were happily unicycling along the road to Completely Transform Yourself Now! class, your yellow balloon bobbing brightly behind you, for a moment it felt like B.C. [Before Cancer]. A mistaken fool, you once believed that you were in the driver’s seat of your life, busy in control — pulling all the little levers in the engine room of your destiny. You had no doubt that the dial on your gas tank would always read full.

You are a nostalgic fool.

But the cycle spill brings you back to earth. Confidence drains. You are inadequate. Limited. Finite. You are far more incomplete than you realized: sitting on the side-lines with a deflated tire and the yellow shriveled skin of your once happy balloon. You hate it when that happens.

Your head grows heavy and rests in your hands. Perhaps you are the kind of cracked pot who is doomed to be half empty, forever, especially since your eyes keep on leaking.

You are a sad fool.

There must be some way to cheer yourself up. An idea glimmers. You will check your career plans. You reach into your back pocket where you keep your extensive career plans.

You are an ambitious fool.

But the plans aren’t in your darned pocket. You check your other pockets. You don’t have any other pockets. You pause to remember. You do have a vague recollection of your plans sitting stacked like firewood on the bedside table in your tower. Your incinerated, collapsed tower. You hate it when that happens.

You double check your back pocket, just in case.

You are a forgetful fool.

Instead of plans, a violet silk handkerchief rustles into your hand. It is attached with a knot to an indigo silk handkerchief, tied to a blue one, attached to a green one, fastened to a yellow one — all knotted and strung tight together like a vivid train of thought …


… Twenty-two silk handkerchiefs later, you decide that you will just let it all go: the unicycle, the yellow balloon, the great pile of incinerated tower-rubble lying over the crushed, buried ashes of your comprehensive career plans. Yes dear, all of it.

You are resigned fool.

You point to your unicycle and say ‘Stay’ very firmly. Just like they taught you to in unicycle training class. (You must be very firm with them or they won’t respect you.) Then you turn, leaving your unicycle to wait patiently beside the road for you. You start walking to class so you can Completely Transform Yourself Now! You will put one foot in front of the other.

You are a determined fool.

That’s when it starts to rain.

You get wet.

Your foot hurts.

You get a blister.

After a while the sun comes out.

You grow sticky.

Your water bottle is empty.

Your nose gets sun burned.

You hate it when that happens.

Unnaturally, you arrive late for Completely Transform Yourself Now! class. You slink into your seat, pretending not to exist. Everyone else in class acts as if you don’t exist, either that or they’re too busy completely transforming themselves now. Under normal circumstances, you would take a moment to hate it when that happens.


You are a hopeless fool.

You sit quietly in Completely Transform Yourself Now! class. And then you begin to fume. You start to get all bent out of shape.

You pause to make a mental note of today’s little life lesson. Here it is for the record: If you are fool enough to spontaneously sign up for a Completely Transform Yourself Now! class, without taking one single moment to ask what is involved, then you will most certainly find yourself vehemently wishing that either:
A. You had taken a single moment to ask: What is involved and how much will it hurt? Or:
B. That someone, anyone really, had thought to mention one simple, but critically important thing to you as you set out on a random journey of personal transformation:

This shit is hard.

You are a regretful fool.

All you wanted to do was to be complete. You thought that getting there would be like doing sit-ups, noble but vaguely unpleasant work.

You thought that personal transformation could be more of a hobby than a lifelong chronic condition.

You fancied that growing up would be more like ripening, rather than getting scratched up and bruised from constantly falling out of your tree.

You envisioned your development being more like changing costumes — mostly cosmetic.

You are a shallow fool.

Then, without warning, you gurgle down your own drain. Apparently this is to be expected when you sign up for a Completely Transform Yourself Now! class.

You dissolve and unravel. You breakdown during a meltdown. You gurgle on the edge of your own brink. You tip over the edge. You sink while frantically bailing out every last hope to stay afloat. Then you spiral down a trail of windowless insights. You are flushed out of your system and blown through the windpipes of your organs. You hit a rough patch, where you groan like a barnacled-hull grazing along a shallow seafloor. You are ground into a pile of your own gravel. You black out for a while.

When you wake up, there is just enough time to wish that you had stayed at home safe in your tree house. Then without any warning, you burst out like vomit through your own blind spot. It is painful. And messy. You hear your seams tear apart like an injury. You relapse into a puddle of unseemly tears.

Your liquid remains begin to fume like a tea kettle. Steam rises. Fresh skin fizzes and pops. You get so hot you will surely burst.

You stand up in panic, reaching around, blindly grasping the air above and below. Clutching for something, anything to hold onto. A handle, a table, a teapot, a chandelier, it doesn’t matter what. You don’t want to blow this. Even crackpots need to keep a lid on things.

Finally, your hand connects with something small and solid. It fizzes and flourishes to get a grip. A little silver pen braces to hold you steady. You gaze at its silvery scales as it blurs into teal and purple then sprouts like a feather. It drools Indian ink down your wrist.

You love it when that happens.

Trembling, you scribble down a note to yourself.

Turning, you unfold like an unfinished poem in a silken pocket of rainbows. You are freshly steaming. Stepping out of an inky black puddle on the classroom floor, tucking a feathery pen in your cap, you are far from complete. You can do better, but this is enough for now.

You are a flowery fool.

You quietly close the classroom door like a secret behind you and begin to walk home. You look up.

You will just put one foot in front of the other.

At least until your new wings dry out.

You are a hopeful fool.