What is it called when you see something fascinating, unexplained, curious, or bizarre and you want to understand it? What is it called when you see something unbelievable and you question its veracity? What is it called when you take nothing at face value, and always peek behind the curtain, searching for the truth?
April Fool's Day.
This holiday is filled with bold claims empty of evidence. That's exactly what pranks are for. This holiday is an invitation to remind yourself of your gullibility, your fallibility, your willingness to believe that which is outright false.
Today you can test your ability to reason, reckon and reconsider all the things that are presented to you--and find the answers without consequence. All is revealed when the day is over.
What a marvelous holiday that calls us to be better human beings through humor!
In fiction, we love characters who stumble and fall and miss the little details. We love the ones with the flaws, who fight against their failings toward growth. We love daring acts of vulnerability.
Yet, when readers think of what frightens them, it's usually something external to their beloved characters. It's usually something like this villain or that monster or some awful circumstance.
I would argue that there is something even more frightening than any of that.
Look for fear in the fact that, even vicariously through the character, many of the things we suffer are the consequences of our own inevitable fallibility. Our ability to make mistakes--and recover from them--is what defines us as resilient and successful in an ever-changing world. When characters make bad decisions for perfectly defensible reasons, we see ourselves and our potential for giving into the delusions of the human mind.
And I love it.
Therein lies compassion. When you see others make mistakes which are so easily avoided from your convenient and comfortable perspective, your instinct is to scoff and judge. But, when you are forced to recognize that such mistakes can come from choices that looked perfectly correct within another skull, what does that say of your own certainties?
Thus, we see that reading, which allows you to step into someone else's skin for as many hours as you dare to turn pages, is a training ground empathy and compassion. Not only for others, but for ourselves.
We're all doing the best we can, thinking as critically as we can, but the Universe knows that every day is April Fool's Day.