My life-model is the Fool — the guy in the Tarot card stack who’s walking along cheerfully, heading off a cliff.  That guy is my hero.

He knows that it’s all one big iffy pile of ambiguity and he’s cheerful anyway.  I can live like that, I am thinking.

A while back, I developed a thing I call “The Fool’s Premises.”  I’ve lived my life pretty much according to these premises and, hey, it’s been a lot good.

I found that you can learn a lot from fools.



It took me a long, long time to get to that one.

For years I was always beating myself up because I was measuring who I am and what I am by standards set by other people.

I never measured up to other people’s expectations and desires and wants and needs.  I barely could keep myself from drowning in them all, running madly around trying to be everything to everybody.

It didn’t work.

And then, I decided, hey, I’m pretty good just as I am.

Well…a funny thing happened.  I was able to see where my strengths were, where my failings were and I could choose to use my strengths and compensate for the things I am not so good doing.

It works okay.

I am friends with myself now.  It works better.


Apparently there is some kind of conspiracy that wants to keep people from playing.  All that “this is se-e-erious, Netta!” tends to do is alert me to incoming not-fun ideas.

Hawaiians are supposedly notorious for developing the ‘alamihi-crab bucket syndrome.

See, the little black ‘alamihi crabs are really tasty eating.  To catch them, you set a bucket with an aku fish head or something in the bottom into the ground at night when they are most active.

They jump in.

The bucket keeps the crabs from getting out again because every time somebody tries to climb out (over the bodies of the other crabs), some other crab in the bucket pulls them back down.

Alamihi Crab by Blake Handley via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

This is a metaphor for a human trait that seems to be ubiquitous.  Hawaiians just got a bad rep because we made up the bucket ploy to catch the little ‘alamihi, I think.

I decided I was not happy being an ‘alamihi.  I didn’t like being in a bucket.  I didn’t like my fate as somebody else’s dinner.  I figured that the best thing I could do was stay out of the ‘alamihi bucket and help other people stay out of it too.  Mostly that’s what I try to do.

It’s a funny thing, though.  When I tell people this premise, they tend to discount anything else I might say after that.

Play has fallen into severe disrepute, it seems.  The grasshoppers are losing to the ants.

Too bad.  All that ant stuff is really boring-looking.


Everything is impermanent.  That’s a given.

So, I went looking for what actually abides — what stays when everything else goes wonky.

 The wise guys are right:  the way you walk is the only thing that stays real.

So….I walk and I keep walking one-step, one-step, one-step.


This one grew out of understanding that my world, what I see and what I feel, is just mine.  Everybody else has their own world they see.

Because we are all milling around in the same place, everybody else’s worlds impinges on my own.  We are all connected and the connections pull at me when you move.

Very little of what people do actually is about ME personally.  They just live their lives and our connections and ties drag me around or trip me up as I’m trying to do mine.

So…if that is a truth, then, it means that mostly I can just keep going on with what I am doing and duck when something particularly nasty comes heading my way.

Not having to spend my days always angry or hurt about other people’s actions that trip me up sure makes it a lot easier to do my own walk.

Here’s a YouTube video published by the Oprah Winfrey Network as part of the SuperSoul Sunday series.  It features Don Miguel Ruiz and speaks about this very thing:

Don Miguel Ruiz is the guy who wrote the books about Toltec wisdoms, THE FOUR AGREEMENTS.


This thing developed as I was learning to walk without my husband Fred in my world any more.  When he died, it seems I was cut loose to go looking for a different kind of way of being that wasn’t so governed by Monkey-mind.

Fred died in 1997, after we’d been together for 27 years.  I still miss him a lot.  But, I don’t think I’d be living my life this way if he were still alive.

Here’s a poem:


F’r real, ya know:

I’m just foolin’ around.


See that card?  That’s the Fool…

The one with the nut with the

Silly grin all over his face?


His eyes look all twinkly from

The stars stuck in them.

He’s dreaming big.

He’s caught in mid-step,

One foot in the air

At the brink of some cliff.

He’s got this bindle on the stick

Held over his shoulder….

Probably lunch.

See his faithful little dog,

All sprightly-looking,

Gamboling along all over his other foot?


That’s me.

The sun’s shining.

The birds are chirping.

It sure looks like a messy ending’s

In the offing.


Awww…I know what the SMART ones say.

They keep trying to convince me that

The other card’s the better one,

The Heirophant, high-priest guy,


That one has this guy perched on some chair

That’s probably harder than

The cheap peasant benches

‘Cause somebody piled on the velvet cushions

Before they let the guy sit down.

He’s dressed in drag.

(At least, that robe thing of his

Sure looks like a bitch to drag around.)

And they’ve jammed this big old heavy hat or something

On his poor, balding pate.


He’s surrounded by crowds of folks,

Looking like they’re intently listening for

Profound pronouncements and proclamations from the poor guy,

And you’ve gotta know

They’re just waiting for one wrong move

So they can grab the schmuck and dis him down into the muck

They spend the rest of their time raking up

And they drown him in some horrid pool of yuck.


Oh, yeah.


Some choice that one is!


I think I’ve got it right.


Bet that fool’s got great balance.

Bet HE knows how to fly….

by Netta Kanoho

Header Picture credit:  The Fool by Herval via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]



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Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below and tell me your thoughts….










30 thoughts on “FOOLING AROUND

  1. Mike Mahaffey says:

    Wow, Netta! I really appreciate your post!

    Sometimes it takes someone passing out of our life to alter the course you’re on? I know that’s what happened to me, anyway.

    Not just like your own experience, but my life got changed up and I had to start looking at myself from a different perspective.

    I think a lot of young people these days think they have to rebel against society norms to find out who they are, but I don’t think so?

    I am who I am without trying to be anything at all, other than to be free and outside the bucket. Life is quite interesting as me, and only me, listening for the voice inside and always seeing if it lines up with my highest desire. Love.

    1. Hey Mike:

      Thanks for your visit and comments. When your life changes, I guess it’s always a chance to do something different. Since life always changes, there are sure a lot of opportunities.

      Rebelling is all about change. Young people initiate changes in their own lives when they rebel against the strictures in the life they have.

      Since most young people are basically defined by those all around them, they have to make different moves to test whether that social definition is actually their own self-definition. It’s normal. It’s part of the process. And it is scary as hell for the people who love them.

      Please do come again.

  2. TaitimuHS says:

    Hi Netta,

    I don’t know what to say. I love your site. I found it inspiring and really enjoyable to read. Your posts are so interesting and resonate with me on lots of different levels. I especially loved ‘Walk your talk’. Working through our ‘stuff’ can be traumatic and your advice makes it seem not so daunting. I will definitely follow your advice.

    I enjoyed watching the video with Oprah, thank you for sharing it. I have been thinking of putting video on my own site. Watching the video made me realise that it is necessary, not an option.

    The colour scheme was really relaxing and complemented the vibrant images of your posts perfectly. The menu was clear and not over crowded. I found that very refreshing. Thank you

    1. Hey TaitimuHS:

      Thanks for your visit and your thoughts. I’m glad the post helped you. Please do come again….

  3. Well, I guess I get to ‘double Wow’ now. What a remarkable article Netta. You have the most amazing outlook. I have written a few poems and I love it when the moment comes over me to write. I am still working on getting out of the bucket I think…or so it feels some days. None the less, you are an inspiration and I just love how your words speak to us. Your words reminded me of a time when someone asked me how do you do it. My reply was I just put one foot in front of the other and keep going. Thank You.

    1. Hey Merry:

      Thanks for your visit and your kind words. I do appreciate them. Please do come again….

  4. This is a wonderful post. I couldn’t agree more with the premise of being the fool. I think that concept could do so much good in this world if everyone adopted it. I especially loved the Oprah video, I preach the message of speaking your peace and letting others do with the information what they feel is best for them because you can’t change anyone they have to do that. All you can do is possibly spark the proper mindset and get out the way.

    So great post. I really like.

    Ian J.

    1. Hey Ian:

      Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I do appreciate it.  Please do come again….

  5. WOW!
    this is pure definition of the literary term ‘Autobiography’.
    well structured and inspiring. though it ended in tragedy, yea. Fred died.
    but you know what?, i love your immediate words ‘ I still miss him a lot. But, I don’t think I’d be living my life this way if he were still alive… this is really encouraging!. it can motivate many out there, not to lose hope.

    thanks for this!

    1. Hey Bibian:

      Thanks for the visit.  I am glad you enjoyed the post.

      Please do come again….

  6. Henderson says:

    Wow, remarkable post you have up here. Its true that sometimes we tend to impress people because we want to be accented. We need to realise the beauty in our own selves. And its true, only our steps are constant and reoccurring. I’m so sad to hear about your husband but sometimes bad things do need to happen for the best to take off. I love your poem too, you really write well.

    1. Henderson, thank you for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I like what you said, “only our steps are constant and reoccuring.”  A truth.

      Please do come again….

  7. Carol5162 says:

    I AM JUST ME AND THAT IS ENOUGH. How refreshing this sentence is. I bet most of us have measured ourselves to the expectations of people and we have punished ourselves for not meeting their expectation.

    We all need to find our world and dwell in it perfectly without fear of judgements. Thank you for the Don Miguel Ruiz video. Let everyone live their own lives.

    May we all be friends with ourselves.

    Thank you for such an inspiring article!

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Carol, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      Please do come again….

  8. crownwole says:

    Stunning! I truly value your post! I thought that it was rousing and extremely charming to peruse and very much organized. I figure I will pursue your recommendation on Walk your discussion and I cherish your prompt words despite everything I miss him a great deal. Is an expression of consolation not to surrender and also, your figure of speech is excellent. Much obliged to you

    1. Crownwole, I do thank you for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  Not surrendering as an expression of consolation is a new concept for me.  Thank you.

      Please do come again….

  9. AnxietyPanda says:

    Dear Netta,

    I really needed to read this today. I find your writing inspirational and motivating. Your story resonates with me and I think your poem was incredible. You are truly talented and I hope for much success to come your way.

    Everybody needs to feel accepted in some way and should be allowed to be whomever they want to be, yet most people choose to rather put a person down instead of building them up. What those people don’t understand is that you feel SO MUCH better after building someone up than you would after breaking someone down… 

    Thanks for sharing your feelings and opening up about these very important topics…

    1. AnxietyPanda, I do agree that building somebody up feels way better than breaking them down.  Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I do appreciate it.

      Please come again.

  10. Excellent article and fascinating, life is so dynamic that I prefer to do the right thing in order to be at peace with myself.  Your words are powerful and lovely, especially the word ”walk your talk.

    Your great advice of following people’s words but never to tread their path is incredible,I learned a great idea from your post.  Never to walk another persons walk.  I am blessed with your words, very inspiring and motivating.

    Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts, Abayomi.  I am glad you enjoyed the post.

      Please do come again.

  11. I loved this article.

    It is so wonderful to read. I read it one breath. 

    This walk of life is more or less for most people. It is a lot of learning out here. Everyone especially the kids should read this blog.

    I like the crab story and have seen them a lot in corporate politics.

    “They are just waiting for one wrong move”-from the poem.

    You got it dear. So many times that has happened in my life and have seen in others life. 

    Thank you, so much.

    1. Ansuya, thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I’m glad you enjoyed the post.  

      Please do come again….

  12. This version of the fool card is really adorable. The typical one is too sinister to my taste, lol. 

    The fool’s premises is such an interesting analogy. I have to say that I am not afraid of living my life like a fool either. I feel that I learn faster when I make mistakes.  

    It took time for me to get here though because of the social “fixed mindset” aspect that we are not supposed to make any mistake. 

    Thanks for sharing your premise with me. Have you read the book MINDSET before? I highly recommend it. It has changed the way I think completely. 

    PS. You poem is beautiful as always.

    1. Nuttanee, thank you for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I do appreciate you, you know.

      If you mean MINDSET by Carol Dweck, it is on my reading list.  I do love her other work and find her thinking to be so right-on for my own self.

      Please do come again.

  13. Mike Yardley says:

    Thank you for sharing these compelling works of poetry.  I especially liked I PLAY AND I HELP OTHER PEOPLE PLAY. The importance of play can not be underestimated.

    Play has fallen into severe disrepute, it seems. The grasshoppers are losing to the ants.
    Too bad. All that ant stuff is really boring-looking.

    I loved this line. 

    1. Welcome back, Mike.  Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I’m glad you’re seeing the value of play too!

      Please do come again.

  14. I think one of the world’s biggest problems is that too many people are too busy trying to live their lives by comparing themselves to other people who they perhaps look up to, or think that they should be like them. This of course is a ludicrous thing to do because you cant be anyone but yourself.

    1. A truth, that.  Thanks for your visit and for your thoughts, Kwidzin.

      Do come again.

  15. This is an interesting article in general, and particularly it caught my attention because we have similar perspectives.  The funny thing is that “playing the fool” turns out to actually be an asset rather than a liability.  At least, that has been my experience.

    Being content with who we are, being willing to help others, “keeping it real,” and not being easily offended appears to many as being too passive or being a pushover.  It’s a “foolish” perspective relative to conventional wisdom.  Still, I’m quite content to join you in fooling around.

    Interestingly enough, most of the time, people seem to respect that I am this way in spite of not agreeing with my perspective.  Have you had similar experiences?

    1. Absolutely, George.  Our way of walking is a bit counterintuitive, I suppose. 

      The people who love me are often concerned about my way of walking.  It looks “dangerous” or something, I suppose.

      At the same time, they know they can count on me to lend a helping hand when they need it, and they do trust me when I tell them they can do it their own selves and they really don’t need me to shore them up.  (Maybe that’s why I love them back.)

      There are many folks, too, who cannot understand why not taking every single little bit of advantage for one’s own self might not be the best strategy for living.  (If you stand around going, “me, myself, and I” and grabbing everything shiny in sight all the time, who’s going to hang around to play with you?)  

      However, I do understand the more usual wily way of walking.  Often, these people have had lessons that keep them from trusting others further than they can throw them, I suppose. 

      Whatever.  I decided that if something I am curious about is not particularly dangerous or terminally stupid, it usually holds some cool thing I will be happy to learn about.

      I hope it’s that way for you too.

      Please do come again….

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