That Fool On the Hill is us. And that’s a good thing

End is NearAside from the image of the man holding a sign that says “The End is Near,” there is perhaps no more cliche depiction than the wise old man on the top of the mountain to whom everyone goes to learn the meaning of life.

We assume there is some sort of paradigm at work there. Surely the man who retreats from civilisation knows something the rest of us do not?

But what if our supposed wise men aren’t so wise. Perhaps they simply don’t know how to deal with change. What if the tried and true wisdom of “Know Thyself” works just as well when shared by the busy working mom next door…

The Beatles once tried to find the wisdom by visiting a wise man in India. It turned out the guy was porking women just like any other dirty old man in downtown London. The experience of the retreat in India led to a few great songs from the White Album (Dear Prudence, for example) in music that emerged from their “joint” experience.

Yet John Lennon wrote the song Sexy Sadie to document the disappointment he felt in having been deceived into thinking the supposedly wise Maharishi knew something more than the rest of the world. The lyrics dripped bitterness as the syllables of Maharishi were replaced by the contemptuous nickname”Sexy Sadie,” seducer of minds…

Sexy Sadie you’ll get yours yet
However big you think you are
However big
You think you are
Sexy Sadie ooh you’ll get yours yet.

We gave her everything we
Owned just to sit at her table
Just a smile would lighten everything
Sexy Sadie she’s the
Latest and the greatest of them all.

The point here is that we must all be careful about who we worship, and how. Next in the Beatles line of wise men placed under the microscope was Paul McCartney’s Fool On the Hill, an attempt at reconciling wisdom in an enigmatic figure.

Day after day alone on the hill,
The man with the foolish grin is keeping perfectly still,
But nobody wants to know him,
They can see that he’s just a fool,
And he never gives an answer,
But the fool on the hill
Sees the sun going down,
And the eyes in his head,
See the world spinning around.

The question those of us who run and ride need to ask is whether doing repeat hills, up and down, up and down, actually adds wisdom to our existence. The difficult part of that question rests in the myth of Sisyphus, in which a man is destined for all eternity to roll a rock up a hill, only to have it roll back down again.

The point might be that so much human endeavor is pointless. Or it might be that the gods we trust for wisdom are in fact cruel bastards who enjoy watching human beings suffer for their efforts.

The truth lies somewhere in between. Perhaps someone less constrained to eternal toil can actually find the work of climbing a hill quite satisfying. The fact that we don’t always have a smirking wise man at the top to tell us the meaning of life is no great loss. We can enjoy the process and think through the rest of our problems in the process. That’s not a bad thing. We are our own Fool on the Hill. Suddenly the lyrics of Paul McCartney take on a while new meaning when we think of ourselves in that context of gaining wisdom from our efforts in climbing hills while running or on the bike:

Well on his way his head in a cloud,
The man of a thousand voices talking perfectly loud
But nobody ever hears him,
Or the sound he appears to make,
And he never seems to notice,
But the fool on the hill
Nobody seems to like him
They can tell what he wants to do.
And he never shows his feelings,
But the fool on the hill

Now go do some hill work. It will do you some good. That’s the wisdom for today.

TRAIN HARD. COMPETE WELL.

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About Christopher Cudworth

Christopher Cudworth is a content producer, writer and blogger with more than 25 years’ experience in B2B and B2C marketing, journalism, public relations and social media. Connect with Christopher on Twitter: @gofast and blogs at werunandride.com, therightkindofpride.com and at 3CCreativemarketing.com. Online portfolio: http://www.behance.net/christophercudworth
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