“I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”
from the Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
From the moment I read this line in Fitzgerald’s novel, it struck a chord with me. I had a little bit of an internal struggle; I wanted to agree but I also knew that I couldn’t.
I think about this quote often, wavering back and forth on whether I, myself, would want to be a beautiful little fool, or if I’d rather be right where I am, aware of myself and the world around me.
The idea of being a beautiful little fool means that I wouldn’t have to think of serious matters.* My biggest concern might be what color dress I might like to wear today. My thoughts would be full of makeup, clothes, jewelry, arts, dancing, and the poetic beauties of the world. I would only be concerned with things that are within my control. I picture this girl as being happy and content, living in an idyllic life in the countryside. The beautiful little fool spends her days singing, dancing, and truly living her life.
* serious matters including, but not limited to: earning an income, budgeting, healthcare, retirement plans, financing, global news, politics, pollution, higher education, accounting, legal matters, poverty, and world hunger.
I think of how simple and relaxing her life must be.
But then I’m struck with fear and I become very concerned for her.
She lives a very egotistical lifestyle, completely detached from reality and current events of the world. While she dwells on seemingly trivial details, somewhere in the world people are dying, catastrophes are occurring on a daily basis, the economy is in a recession, and the house and land she lives on are becoming harder and more expensive to maintain. She doesn’t take into consideration the feelings and sentiments of anyone around her. While she is absorbed in herself and her appearance, the biggest problems and mysteries of the world go unsolved.
While the beautiful little fool appears to live a genuine life, by embracing her present in living in the moment, she simultaneously lives a highly disingenuous life through the eyes of society.
She isn’t aware of societal concerns nor society’s perception of her nor would it concern her if she knew. She does not see past herself and her present moment. She does not concern herself with serious matters. Those are for someone else to worry about.
Would you feel happy if you were in the shoes of the beautiful little fool? Would you want to live a life where you’re not constantly striving to be more, attain more, and learn more? Would a life like hers be enough for you?
Or would you rather have the knowledge that something beyond yourself exists and the responsibility to partake in society and contribute to the greater good? Would you continue searching for more?
On some days, I admit. I wish I could be a beautiful little fool. I could embrace this persona, maybe for a day, before returning to the worries of the world.
If I could choose, perhaps in an ideal world, I would want to be somewhere in between the reality of the beautiful little fool and my own.
But perhaps if I were her, I would never know a life like mine even existed. Or if I did know, I wouldn’t concern myself with it.
Unfortunately, there’s a reason why this persona flirts with danger.
If every single person in the world were to adopt such an egocentric mindset, society would begin to crumble. Everyone would simply be fending for themselves. Therein lies the dilemma of the beautiful little fool.