It takes extraordinary intelligence to play the fool, and an even greater cleverness to fool oneself; just read a few lines from Shakespeare’s King Lear, and the interaction between Lear and the Fool, and one realizes the extensive capacity of self-indulgence in the deception of man in his need to guard his own ego.
In fooling one’s self, does one fool others, as well? If a person takes on a persona, lives in a fantasy world, creates an identity separate and apart, and yet becomes consumed by the double-life to the extent that he or she comes to believe one’s own creative imagination, does the fact that others who knew the person from childhood onward destroy the fool’s own universe of make-believe?
Of the old adage and Biblical admonition that prophets are never accepted in their own hometown — is this because those who know a person from early life, “know better”?
If we fool ourselves only within the contained universe of our own thoughts, and never let the fantasies “seep out” into the objective reality of other’s awareness, have we fooled ourselves? Others? Is living a “double-life” the same as fooling ourselves and others, or is it only when we fool those closest to us where the “double” makes a difference?
What about hiding a medical condition? What if a person is on anti-depressants or other psychotropic medication regimens, and yet everyone else believes that person to be the envy of the world, of the very definition of “happiness” exponentially quantified, until one day that very person is committed to an intensive psychiatric hospital and it comes out that he or she is the most unhappiest of individuals — has that person fooled himself, others, or both?
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, a great deal of “fooling” must go on in the interim. You may overcompensate; you may appear to others to be “just fine”; and the tailored seams of normalcy may continue on for some time, until the wear and tear of self-deception begins to take its toll.
Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the first honest step towards being “true to one’s self”, and like the fool in Shakespeare’s King Lear, it is the capacity of the King fooling himself, and not the honesty of the fool, that makes for the tragedy that ensues.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire