No one wants to be a fool, least of all a fool in love. But what of being a Fool for Love? Is there any difference? Foolishness, folly, fool-hardy. We know it all too well. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. This is true of gambling with our hard-earned dollars. Might it also be true of gambling with our hard-won hearts? Shouldn’t we be just as careful and cautious about how, when, where, and why we choose to invest our love? And yet, we can be smart, brainy, canny, and wise in the ways of the world. Too smart to be taken in, too smart to be trusting. Smart enough to value safety and avoidance of pain and a broken heart above everything else, even with the one we love. Too smart to allow the vulnerability that openhearted love demands.
Every day I work with couples who are just “too smart.” Too smart for their own good, to love, to risk opening their heart one more time. All of our investment in self-protection backfires and leaves us smart, brilliant even. But alone, even with our partner. Even with the one we long to connect with most. There are few things as isolating as not being able to reach out to a person you love. Few things are more painful than using all our energy to keep our heart safe, only to find it shattered as a result of our efforts.
The wisdom of The Fool. Let’s be clear here. I’m not talking about driving the wrong way down a one way street. This isn’t about picking a mate with “great potential” and dreaming of loving them into a different person, or saving them with our love. That is self-delusion and denial, really foolish, and all too common.
This is about the openhearted wisdom of allowing love to be received and given. This is about the conscious, risky, perilous journey of allowing our hearts to open to each other. Allowing the possibility of hurt and vulnerability. Allowing for the imperfection of our lover and for our own faltering self. This is about overcoming the habit of being shut down to ourselves and to each other. This is about moving from a state of distance and silence toward a new way of falling into loving and loving behaviors. It is a raw, undeniable fact that love cannot be exchanged without an openhearted willingness to take a fall every now again. In fact, breaking hearts wide open is what love is all about. It isn’t until we are willing to lay our hearts open that we are able to give and receive the lushness and depth of love. Anything else is merely a pale shadow.
The posture of Love. So, suppose you decide that you are willing to love again, willing to risk being loved, willing to bridge the gap of resentment and disappointment that seems to well up in so many long term relationships. Or, perhaps you have sought deep cover and safety and you aren’t even in a relationship now, but you figure, “What the Hell! Bring it on! I’m ready to take a chance on love again. Ready to be a Fool for Love.” Then what? What does the posture of Love look like? What are we really talking about here?
Take the risk of loving first. Take the risk of being unseen, unheard, unreceived. Misunderstood. Take the risk of being rejected, and then take it again without keeping score. Without telling yourself a story about what it means to be unmet by your partner in any one particular moment. Without investing in creating a litany of proof about the way in which your mate is not loving you “enough.” Or the ways in which it all means you are simply unlovable. Take the risk to open into each new moment fresh, a fool, with your knapsack ready for the next new journey into the new day because of openhearted love. The joy of what open hearts can feel and radiate is far brighter and more lovely than the cloudy, stale illusion of closed-in safety we so often create around us in our hearts and in our homes.
The heavy armor of our cautious hearts creates a foolproof barrier to love. In seeking absolute safety, there is no way for love to find us; no room for love to expand within us, yet we yearn to expand fully and deeply into love. It is simply impossible for us to love each other without taking the risk of loving first. Despite our wish to be loved without having anything to lose. It is our vulnerability, in fact, which allows us to receive and give love at all. We cannot really love anyone, even ourselves, when we are trapped in our “safety first” lifestyle.
Find The Fool in yourself and champion The Fool in your partner. Take the road only a fool would take. Take the road of Love directly into your heart and the heart of your Beloved. Take a chance on believing love and trust are possible. No, it isn’t smart, but it is wise. Wise in the ways only a Fool for Love can be wise. Wise in the only ways that count.
© Copyright 2008 by Victoria Wallace Schlicht, LMFT, SEP. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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