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BARTOLOMÉ ESTEBAN MURILLO: Two Women at a Window (c. 1655/1660)
"Only idiots attempt to find themselves by mimicking another."

Baseball season begins on April Fool's Day without a shred of intentional irony. I sit in the same window I was displaced from twelve years ago, renewing my plotting against the streetlight outside. The house now filled with boxes, many holding promise and a few holding long past, utterly unresurrectable lives as Easter nears and Passover passes us by. Life sometimes seems a Fool'sMission offering nothing so much as endless opportunities for me and everybody else to make absolute fools of ourselves, just as if we already hadn't. We undertake great missions brimming over with glowing possibilities and sometimes even succeed at achieving them. Glory comes and goes like tidal action, especially success, a more demanding mistress than failure ever was, for she demands more than an odd ounce of flesh, and takes it. We're animated dust still wondering what all the fuss was about.

My darling daughter Heidi was born on this very day thirty-nine years ago today.
She grew into an internationally acclaimed figure in her field, which she labeled Citizen Of The World. She sought to heal rifts between cultures, focusing upon the greatest point of leverage, the largely forgotten and often neglected immigrant populations who held great aspirations against sometimes greater opposition. She always knew which side she would be counted on, even when and maybe especially when that would mean her perspective might be discounted by those in power. She distrusted power as a matter of principle and found means for influencing it in spite of itself. I might have poked that she was my April Fool's joke, but we both knew that she was nobody's fool. She more often found herself the smartest person in the room, a position which begs a certain obligatory derision from those who know that they're not and never had been in contention. She was, however, on a Fool'sMission, and there could have been no higher calling. She died in February and her mission ended, or so I might have presumed, except this week a prestigious literary journal published a tribute to her along with a few poems she'd translated for a little-known Cuban poet, posthumously posted, her mission continues with very likely even more notoriety coming.

I believe that no one can aspire to greater purpose than to passionately pursue a Fool'sMission. It's outcome simply should be unlikely from the outset, it's potential influence bordering upon delusional. It must be yours and no others' and it should attract derision much more easily than praise. Some days should seem hopeless, others merely feckless, yet persistence continues. Nobody's fool but your own, nobody could or would ever volunteer to own you. You can't be for sale. You willingly give yourself away but retain authorship. Surprised sometimes by the vehemence of your opposition you continue without contrition. You possess the innocence only fools understand.

A Fool'sMission's accomplishments should remain in question, lacking unambiguous indications of success. Some note from the past might come to remind you that you once made a real difference, one you hadn't suspected at the time. Payoff comes, if there is one, in becoming a self so unique and curious that you'll very likely never feel as though you really belong in this world. Why else expend so damned much energy attempting to change it? A light heart seems essential for anyone engaging in a Fool'sMission. The purpose seems altogether too serious to take THAT seriously and seems to demand a certain humility. The point might be that no payoff lies waiting near the end, no talent scout connector compelled to make you a star. Fools sometimes inspire themselves but not necessarily on a regular basis. They sometimes inspire others but not for them to mirror the fool's methods or purpose. Only idiots attempt to find themselves by mimicking another.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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