To Fall or To Fly is the opening track on spirals. A simple and meandering tune, it’s about inner and outer journeys that take great courage to travel.
I choose to start my blog here because as much as this song is an introduction to the album it’s also an introduction of sorts to my recent self. So hello and welcome.
The song existed for a while without a title… until I saw this fellow:
This image brought together a number of threads I’d been contemplating and it became clear what to name the song…
Fool: One deficient in judgement or sense, one who acts or behaves stupidly, a silly person, a simpleton, destitute of reason or intellect; a weak-minded or idiotic person, to be every way inferior to, one who professionally counterfeits folly for the entertainment of others, a jester, clown.
So what inspires and intrigues me about this character? Well, though the dictionary’s definition is pretty dry, The Fool is a figure we see reoccurring throughout history in the creative arts, mythology, archetypal psychology and more, sometimes associated with The Trickster or The Magician figure.
Whilst often used for comic relief there is a subtext holding much deeper significance than mere entertainment for the clown shows tears and laughter to be different sides of the same coin. It reveals life’s joys and sorrows and, indeed, the masks we wear.
The Fool is an invitation to Paradox.
Becoming a conscience and a mirror to whom they come into contact, they flip things on their heads and make us conscious of perceptions we take for granted as truth.
The Fool is an invitation to Wisdom.
Pointing out shadows in humankind, revealing hypocrisy, challenging and questioning the status-quo they do not accept things blindly.
The Fool in an invitation to Autonomy.
Laughing through life’s absurdity and poking fun when things are too serious, though it looks like the joke is on them, who is the one left laughing?
The Fool is an invitation to Lightness.
Back to the image that captured my eye – placed at number zero, both the beginning and the end of the card deck and the journey itself – The Fool holds the number of unlimited potential.
When I look at this picture I see a figure facing the unknown, unburdened carrying everything needed in a backpack, looking west to possibility, following the sun’s path and slightly upwards to the sky and everything that represents, about to step off the cliff from the mountains that have already been navigated behind. I see a figure with a bird’s eye perspective. I see new directions, boundary crossing and a leap of faith into the unknown. To Fall or To Fly? We don’t know what happens next, that is the point.
The Fool is an invitation to Risk Taking.
To letting go of conditioned beliefs, to a different type of journey, to creative thinking, transformation and a re-framing of all that has been traveled before.
Exploring the etymology of the word itself we find the Latin ‘follis’ meaning windbag or bellows, ‘foolishness’ synonymous with being ‘empty headed’ and ‘full of air’.
Yet if we turn that on its head then bellows are actually the instrument that facilitates the expansion and contraction that breathes energy into fire. The empty bag of wind creates roaring flames from smouldering embers.
Follis is an invitation to be a fire starter.
If the Archetypal Trickster is led by its animalistic appetites and senses, to be empty headed, then, is a gift and an opportunity to get back into the body, to return to our wildness.
The human narrative’s need for progress and enlightenment has encouraged us to be thinkers and do-ers. Gaining judgement, thought, intellect, time, speed, strength, immediacy, dominion and civilisation, we have perhaps lost intuition, heart, senses, timelessness, stillness, vulnerability, sustainability, reciprocity and wildness.
Clearly there are wonderful qualities to the former. I wouldn’t be writing this and you wouldn’t be reading this without progress. And yet, with this as our guide where are we heading? Are we in danger of implosion? And what are we moving away from?
The Fool is an invitation to Return.
By return I don’t mean going backwards, or to some sort of idealised past state. There can be no way back. For me it is about balance and re-connection. This is what I desire for my life and what I speak through my music.
The Fool is an invitation back to myself. A way to walk a spiral path that re-frames the notion of progress and a way to renew life daily and choose the creative potential in every moment.
There is of course a shadow side to any archetype and The Fool is also the master of smoke and mirrors and can tie themselves and others in knots…
… yet the Archetypal heroes’ journey is to go into the dark and allow themselves to grow through life’s teachings. To journey through the spiral where they must keep hold of their own thread amongst the calling Sirens.
It’s my belief that in the loud call of dominant culture(s) we have lost the art of pilgrimage. With all the things we’re ‘supposed’ to achieve in this life and the linear way to do it, what is it to just open the doors? To embrace the unknown. To wander. To put one foot in front of the other. To quiet our heads and listen closer. The notion of ‘wrong’ turns can be transformed when there can be no wrong. The Fool laughs and loves in the face of that, holding the paradox that they may Fall or Fly and keeping present to that choice in every moment.
I wish to embrace my inner Fool and hold her with as much reverence as my wisdom, to see them as two sides of the same coin.
So, I am a fool, walking. From here I will get my vision. Step by step opening a window to the new. I am a relentless pilgrim in this respect and in different ways my songs touch on this Foolishness that I seek.
And the more I seek the more I come into connection with the vast array of other wise fools boldly and tentatively walking. So, this song is for me, and for you. Have Courage my friends…