The Thought for the Day – Robertson Davies

The Fool is zero. And what is zero? Power, no? Put zero to any number and in a wink you increase its power by ten. He is the wise joker who makes everything else in the hand conditional. – Robertson Davies, The Lyre of Orpheus


Robertson Davies was, among other things, a Canadian novelist, playwright, reporter and newspaper executive and remains one of Canada’s most critically acclaimed and commercially successful authors. Davies was born and lived in southern Ontario. A child of avid readers, Davies became a voracious reader himself.

The Lyre of Orpheus, the final installment of The Cornish Trilogy, and, for reasons we are not prepared to explain, remains the only book of Davies we have read. This is funny because we recall enjoying it immensely and it contributed no less than 18 entries to our personal quote book, not a record but still a fairly high number. It concerns a group of people who find themselves heading up a foundation and must decide which artistic ventures deserve their funding. The settle on an opera. Hilarity, and seduction, ensue.

The Fool makes several appearances in The Lyre of Orpheus. He is a “…footloose traveler, urged onward by something outside the confines of intellect and caution…” guided “by intuition” and “governed by a morality that was not to everybody’s taste.”

We must have some of Davies’ Fool in us. We must be guided by intuition, because that will tell us how get to where our heart tells us to go. It’s OK to be a footloose traveler on your path, because everything we want out of life is on that path. We must not be afraid to travel it.

Anyone who follows their instincts and refuses to conform to common restrictions placed on them immediately adds a zero to their number and increases their power by ten. This is a life lived on your own terms. You will succeed at some things and you will fail at some things, but the results are often a matter of no consequence. Merely trying something inspired by something deep inside you is the very definition of success.

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