The Fool’s Journey

Apr 28, 2012 by

By Lisa Campion

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Just the other day I went up to my old alma mater, UMASS Amherst and signed my son up for college. It was like time traveling. Good old UMASS hasn’t really changed that much in the THIRTY YEARS since I was a freshman there myself.


Ok, can you just take a pause and hold my hand and breath with me a bit as I try to get the THIRTY YEARS thing I just said under my belt. Breathe, pant… gasp! I might need a paper bag to breath into to get through the rest of this blog.


BTW, here is a picture of my little dude when he about ten. Isn’t he cute? I love the attitude. I throw it in here to help you get the whole sensation I have this week of time sliding by at warp speed. There he was a little guy, and now here he is all grown up.




Back at UMASS, we walked all around the campus. I looked in on the dorm that I lived in my first semester freshman year, amazed that it looked exactly the same thirty years later.



Same for the Campus Center and Student Union. And the funky red brick building that held my major. (Comparative Literature, if you must know…)


We went to his new department (Computer Science) and talked to an adviser about his classes. We went to the financial aid office, the bursar’s office and the housing office. Got all our questions answered and the general picture of how it was going to go for him. In the campus store I bought him a sweatshirt with the school logo and a sticker for the back of my car.


“Are you sure this college is the one you want? Once I buy this sticker and put it on my car, there is no going back,” I said. “A sticker on the back of your car is a huge commitment. It’s the college version of crossing the Rubicon.” For some reason the sticker made it more real then writing a big old deposit check, which I also did, later that day.


He rolled his eyes. “Mom, it’s the right thing. This is the place for me, I know it. Get the sticker.”



Thirty years. How could that be?


On my end it’s like no time as passed at all and yet I have also lived a couple of completely whole and separate lives during that time. My motto in life could be, “It seemed like a good idea at the time…” You could write that on my tombstone as an epitaph, really. Most of the major decision that I have made have fallen into that category. It got me thinking about where I am in my own life, my own decisions and how in fact we set the course of our own life, one little choice at a time.


Thirty years ago it was my parents bringing me to my freshman orientation. And there I was sitting there at Bart’s Ice cream in Amherst, which also hasn’t changed a lick, eating ice cream with my son, check signed, decision made, since it obviously was the best decision for him.


The Fool


He looked so young, wise and funny, smart and somehow vulnerable too. He is in the beginning of life, in that wonderful place of having his whole life stretched out in front of him, an empty canvas waiting to be painted on. He reminded me of the Fool card in the tarot deck, not because he is foolish, but because that card symbolizes youth and innocence.


In the card a youth, with a little bag packed on his shoulder is about to step off the cliff. In the bag are all the tools he needs to compete his journey here on earth, which is called “The Fool’s Journey.”


His eyes are on the sky, not on the path in front of him and his face is filled with optimism, hope and joy. A dog walks at his side, symbolizing our guides and companions on the path, a reminder that we never walk the Fool’s Journey alone. His innocence and faith are all he needs and he knows that walking off the edge of the cliff requires a leap of faith.



I remember being there.


“Mom, will you stop crying? We are eating ice cream and have a nice time. You are such a goofball!” he said.




“Sorry,” I snuffled into my mint chocolate chip, kiddie-sized ice cream cone. Still tastes like it did thirty years ago when I sat there with my friends, my college boyfriend, with my whole life stretched out in front of me, my canvas still empty, when I was at the beginning of my Fool’s Journey.


I remember loving the freedom of that time, before any major decisions have been made, before you lock yourself into your reality with your choices. Each choice you make sets the course for you life so that by the time you are forty years old, fifty years old, you are tied to your choices. They become your destiny and your legacy and for the most part, once you are in them they create the framework of your life and there is no going back. You are committed to your path.


“Do you want to walk around and look at all the shops and stuff? See what your new town has to offer?” I asked him. I would have, in his shoes.


“Nah. I have four whole years to explore the town,” he said, content with the moment as it was.


He looked so impossible young to my eyes. I must have been that young too when I was there as a freshman. He could meet the person he is going to marry at UMASS, as I did, all those many years ago.


Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not about regret. I don’t have regrets. I have had a very fulfilling, adventurous and certainly an entertaining life. I have lived my life knowing that I feel more regret for the things I didn’t do, then the things I have done. I make mistakes, I choose and learn and then choose something else. I am not afraid of change, but rather am afraid of stuckness, slack and lack of growth.


It’s more the perceptive of middle age, when one no longer has the empty canvas. Each of those choices I have made, and continue to make create a new brush strokes on the canvas of my life. If my son is the fool, then I am the Hermit.




Besides being the album cover for the best Led Zeppelin album ever, this card shows an old man on the top of a mountain. He is alone and contemplative his attention turned inward in mediation. The light in his lantern will light the path in front of you, if you have the wisdom to look inside yourself for answers.


“Mom, it’s going to be alright. This is good thing. It’s a great thing!” I am sure I said the same thing to my mother, all those many years ago.


“I know hunny. I am so excited for you!” The wisdom part of me, the Hermit reminds me that there are no wrong choices. There is only choosing, experiencing stuff, and learning. And choosing again.


It’s all good. We can always choose again. We can choose to find the wisdom in our experiences, as the Hermit does. And that is the whole point of the Fool’s Journey.


And we can keep choosing to move forward on our path with the faith, optimism and innocence of the Fool as he joyfully takes his leaps of faith. Every day, every moment, choosing anew.


Lisa and Grayson


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