A Fool for April’s Fool’s Day and Opening Day
Today is April Fool’s Day.
As a kid, I always hated April Fool’s Day because I didn’t to be the butt of the joke for fear of looking gullible or stupid. If I was going to participate in April Fool’s “merriment,” I was going to have to be the prankster, not the pranked.
Yesterday was New York Mets Opening Day.
What I love most about Opening Day—New York Mets Opening Day especially, since I’m a Mets fan, but it does apply to all teams and really all sports—is that all the slates are clean and the scales are balanced. For a brief moment in time, everyone is equal. All teams are in first place, and all players are tied for the league lead in all offensive and defensive statistics. Everyone is number one.
And then comes the first pitch.
And the second.
And soon, we have imbalance again. Strikeouts and home runs. Winners and losers. Catches and bobbles.
When I was sitting yesterday in the freezing cold at the Mets Opening Day ceremonies, recalling the Mets’ ridiculously good Opening Day won-loss record, which would imply that the odds were in their favor to beat the Nationals simply because this was the first game of the season (the odds were wrong), I reveled in all the potential. From underneath my blankets and down jacket, I watched as the announcer introduced the 2014 lineups—the new players, the fan favorites, the team captain. Could this be the year? In this particular combination, could there be the elusive mixture that creates greatness, that creates champions—that indefinable “something” that makes the total greater than the sum of its parts?
Ten innings later, when the Mets lost 9-7, I was less sure, but that wasn’t quite the point.
What I thought was the point was that Opening Day is the moment in time where baseball fans all practice a little phenomenological bracketing. For just a few minutes, we put aside our assumptions and our expectations. We forget about terrible finishes last season, the slumps, the injuries, the complaints, and the disappointments.
And what April Fool’s Day and Opening Day have in common is that openness. In mythology, the archetype of the Fool is not a stupid person but rather an open person, an innocent person—one who has not been jaded by life’s experiences. The Fool approaches life with Beginner’s Mind, without preconceived notions or assumptions of disaster or success. What I have come to love most about the Fool over the years is that the Fool is willing to take those Leaps of Faith that those of us who are jaded and cynical always anticipate with doom. And the Fool is fine with being the butt of the joke—the Fool finds the humor in it and can laugh right along with the prankster and can prank right back.
Some might say one needs to be a bit of a fool/The Fool to be a Mets fan. Maybe that’s true. Many a time the Mets have broken my heart on a Wednesday night only to have me turn on the game for the first pitch on Thursday. Maybe today will be the day, I always say. Or not. But I always come back. And I work hard to bracket my assumptions from the previous night, and the previous week, month, season, and seasons.
Because we know it is so important to bracket our assumptions when we are with our clients, gaining awareness of where we naturally bracket our assumptions might help us practice. And the more we practice, the more we learn to cultivate our own inner Fools—the part of us that embraces that innocent love for life, for new experience, and for others. Really! No joke!
-- Sarah Kass