What Does It Mean
It’s officially been one year since I launched my blog. I’d like to thank all my readers for reading my very long posts and for commenting. I appreciate it so much.
My favorite card in the Tarot major arcana is the Fool. I think The Fool is the INFP card. He represents wisdom without reason. He represents the beginning of a journey and journey’s end. Like INFPs, we are always starting our journey to our Ideal Self and that the same time, we are who we are.
In one hand, the Fool holds a flower that represents the appreciation for beauty. Over his shoulder is a stick representing wisdom which dangles a small bag with the few belongings he actually needs. At his foot, there’s a dog which represents reality or the real world always nipping at his heels. The Fool seems oblivious to the precipice that he’s about to step over. INFPs, like the Fool, live on the edge of reality always moments from falling over and being lost forever in our dream world.
The Fool is the card of infinite possibilities. It’s also the card of blind faith. When it appears in the spread, it can signal a restarting of your life and that great change is coming. I like the Fool card because it reminds me of my favorite quote by T.S. Eliot: “We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started… and know the place for the first time.”
That exploration is the INFP journey to find our Ideal Self. We will find it where we started but only after our travels are done. The Fool has always held special meaning for me.
However, that isn’t why I started my blog on April 1st. I just thought it was cute and ironic that I start on a day that people associate with joking. Attaching meaning to my blog with how the start date relates to the Fool and April first being the start of the 2nd quarter was something I did later. For me, meaning comes later. It works better that way.
As INFPs, we continually search for meaning. What does it all mean? What’s a meaningful job that I would like? We want meaning in our lives to find some order in a seemingly random and uncaring world. We imagine what we think would be the perfect job for us then we pursue it. We create this image of the perfect girl or guy for us and then we look to the outside to find someone to match that image. We start with a belief in an ideal and look outside to find that ideal.
The problem is that the world outside our head isn’t perfect. It’s messy and complicated and a Fool’s blind faith has never gotten us to the perfect picture we imagined. Trying to figure out meaning first and then trying to make the world prove that such meaning can exist is backwards. It’s like the scientist that has theory and then tries to find facts to prove that theory. The apple dropped on Newton’s head first and then he came up with his Laws of Motion, not the other way around.
Meaning is theory. Theory exists to explain facts. That’s how it’s always been done. Our ancestors looked into the sky and saw stars and the darkness between and then created their mythology to impose meaning onto the emptiness. INFPs want meaning to come first and wonder why re-inventing the wheel isn’t getting us as far in life as we had dreamed. Of course when things don’t work out, INFPs have no problem attaching meaning second.
If we never got the awesome job and we have debt, that must mean that money is evil. If we were never surrounded by the crowd of adoring friends, that must mean that we’re so special that only a few people will ever truly understand us. If all the relationships we’ve had ended badly, that much mean all women/men are generally jerks and we just have to be more careful the next time. INFPs attach meaning after the facts all the time, but usually only when bad things happen.
It’s more fun to attach meaning after good things happen. Whenever I go somewhere, if I find a convenient parking space right away then I know I was meant to be there. I always seem to find great parking so I’m always meant to be wherever I am.
INFPs think that finding meaning first will make things better. If we can figure out what would be a meaningful job then we’ll be happy when we finally get that job. What INFPs don’t seem to grasp is that meaning makes things bearable, it doesn’t make things better. Unless we love our job, a crappy job is still a crappy job even if it means something to us. Unless someone enjoys being in a war zone being shot at daily, the meaning that person finds in patriotism makes the job worthwhile, but it doesn’t make the job better. Unless someone enjoy the endless parade of other people’s problems, then any meaning they find in helping people isn’t going to make them like their psychiatry job more.
INFPs can have jobs we like and have those jobs be meaningful. However, we have to find something we like first and then figure out why it’s worthwhile to be doing the job later. It’s easy and natural for INFPs to do what we like. We act immediately to do the things we like. However when we try to find meaning first, we are always wondering if we can live with it if we find out we don’t like it later. Meaning is complicated. Attaching meaning first leaves us with this nagging feeling, as we pursue our wants, about whether or not we’re going to like what we wanted when we get it. That nagging feeling holds us back from fully committing to our endeavors which is why INFPs never succeed as well as we hoped.
So what does this blog mean to me in the long term? I don’t know yet. What I know now is that, I like writing it. That’s why I’m writing. Isn’t doing something because we like it worthwhile in itself?
Apr 1, 2010
I shouldn’t keep being surprised by how squarely you seem to hit the nail on the head – there’s always been something a bit spooky about other INFPs – but I’d like to commend to you the book “Jung and Tarot: An Archetypal Journey” by Sallie Nichols. I won’t be surprised to hear if you’ve already read and moved beyond it, but I had it lying open in front of me even as I arrived at your page today so I had to say something. If we can read it with the right balance of cynicism and intuition, as INFPs are particularly good at doing, it can provide a remarkable roadmap through some of The Stuff That Happens To Us. In fact I’ve spent the last month looking for a version of The Fool card to use as my userpic. I suspect any ordinary picture of me will suffice!
Thank you, Corin, for your insights. I’ve never thought of the Fool as the INFP card but it makes excellent sense and p’rhaps explains why the Tarot has fitted me so well.
And happy birthday blog! Encore!
Apr 1, 2010
Sorry, just to add that I found two of the most useful sentences from Ms Nichols’ book are one of her passing definitions of the Fool – “a vague creature of rainbow possibilities with a penchant for madness” – which I have now taken as my bio on Twitter, and the line “When the ego is immobilised, intuitions are free to soar” from her chapter on The Star. That last sentence has proved wonderfully liberating.
Apr 4, 2010
Hi! I was just wondering if you could let me know which deck the right-side Fool card on the picture is from.
April 4th, 2010 at 9:11 pm
The Fool on the right side is from Melissa Launay’s Golden Tarot deck.
Apr 5, 2010
My goodness..the fool is such an apt avatar! I dug out the tarot deck I have had in a drawer for years and… there I was!.. with the little dog (my husband, thank the goddess for him!)yapping at my oblivious heels, warning of impending, unexpected flight.
While I usually believe that the flight will be a great and worthy adventure, I’m almost always caught off-guard and pretty much horrified when I find my feet no longer feeling earth! I find myself thinking “OH F*** not THIS again! What was I thinking??” Of course, I “learn and grow” from the experience, EXCEPT when I get into an obsession mode where I can’t seem to quite forgive myself for being such a fool…and I replay the idiocy over and over, hoping that this will keep me from reenacting whatever goofy endeavor I engaged in–which felt like a high spiritual mission at the time. I seem so good at self-delusion (in the name of high-purpose, as you suggested)——And as annoying as the yapping little dog can be, I can’t imagine a grounded life without him there. Thanks for listening, and I appreciate your thoughtful discourse. So glad I found your blog:-)
April 5th, 2010 at 10:04 am
I think it’s the interpretation of the Fool as wisdom without reason that attracts me. I never saw the Fool is ignorant. I think the Fool knows the cliff is there and that his grand journey is always on the edge falling over. I think INFPs know that some of our dreams and notions may be a bit out there, but we just don’t care if they are unrealistic.
It’s nice to have a grounding force. My wife never tells me that I’m being unrealistic. She’s always asking me about my next step, forcing me to stop dreaming and start doing.
April 5th, 2010 at 2:47 pm
Yes…I totally relate to the fool as a wise idealist.. a bit naive perhaps but not out-of-touch. I willingly fall into my adventures, but do seem to pay a price some of the time–mostly because the choice made other people uncomfortable and I felt bad about that.
I like your comment about not caring if our dreams are unrealistic. Heck–it’s still worth pursuing– cos you never know! What else IS there?
Re: grounding force—Same with my husband….he appreciates my creative impulses, and helps me to do what needs to be done to move on. The yapping interrupts the dreaming stage sometimes , though. It’s more of matter of communication at that point. But grounding is definitely needed.
Apr 6, 2010
Ach! Corin, I’m glad you are writing this stuff. I loved the fool Tarot analogy. That is PERFECT for us. JUST PERFECT! I wish I’d known I was INFP in my 20’s but didn’t figure it out until late 40’s. I think it really helps to get real with that dog at your heals to understand this and the, yes, meaning of it. How it relates. There is much more joy in life understanding the common pitfalls of this type, and helps us realize that we are not alone in dealing with it when we know others we can talk to about it. Who get it. That’s why I love meeting other INFPs, it is a blessing. Meaningful. And yes, I’m a fool and getting to be feeling more and more comfortable about that. Thanks for your writings. Will be by to read more.
Apr 10, 2010
I found your blog through Personality Cafe. The OP asked a question about a career decision that I thought coincided with your blog entry. I have been researching new careers as well. Marcus Buckingham (featured on Oprah) is a career counselor that advises clients to mold their career based on accentuating their strengths and downplaying their weaknesses. He says people ask three questions when considering a new job: “Why is this job important to me?” “Who will I be working with?” and “What will I be doing?” Most people will take the job because of the “why”, stay with the job because of the “who”, and leave the job because of the “what”. His analysis is that if you don’t like the “what”, it will adversely affect the “who” and “why”. All of this info is on the Oprah website.
The reason I am mentioning this is because I think INFPs like the “why” “who” and “what” to always be in perfect alignment and that is often very unrealistic. Other personality types may be more forgiving, but you are right in that we like to exist in a perfect world in which we are using all of our natural talent in a great work environment for a wonderful cause. Another good point you brought up is that we should find something we are good at and attach the meaning later. There are lots of occupations that embody good ideals but can force a person to perform tasks that drain them instead of make them feel energized.
BTW Catherine, I didn’t know I was INFP until I was 38. It was such a life-changing event that has had nothing but positive consequences.
April 11th, 2010 at 1:43 am
It’s great to hear from you Catherine. When younger INFPs ask me about career advice, I tell them to volunteer or intern with someone who’s currently doing what they want to be doing. If they can’t stand the day-to-day, they won’t like the job no matter how rewarding it is. It’s better to find out now instead of wasting 4+ years of college going for some job they idealized as perfect and then get there and realize it wasn’t as great as they thought.
Jan 25, 2016
Hello Corin! I ve been reading this blog for three days and actually first time in my life, it’s such a blessing, “I m not alone!”. I took the test last month, and I ve found out this blog recently- I m INFP and all my life, I was being asked why I m so not normal (INFP and sad childhood). nobody guided me, so I ve always thought that I’m the writer of my life so I decided everything for myself (INFP individualism). I thought I don’t belong anywhere and I couldn’t make sense of my actions and behavior although I analysed myself all the time! I started to read psychology when I first fell in love at high school (instead of telling what I felt, I didn’t tell because I didn’t want a relationship, I thought self-discovery is amazing; why do I feel what I feel! The hopeless romantic INFP). After two years of reading books about human behavior, people whom close to me advise me to study psychology at the collage; since I was obsessive about fixing people. But I m the idealist type so, I followed my 11 year old dream and studied one Asian language; Korean language and literature! This time in my life, I’m the starving artist (of an artist daughter) INFP. I will try my best to find my way in life, and keep reading this blog!
Thank you very much for writings! It’s just great!