This may be the best question of them all!
The title of the book Many Brave Fools is based on a mnemonic taught to riders in order to remember letter markers in a dressage ring. What does this title mean to you and how does it capture the heart of your memoir?
This memoir had started out to be something very different in that I’d planned to take posts from my blog and cobble together a light-hearted story about being a fortysomething pony girl looking to buy her first horse. As the proposal failed to get traction and I wrote myself into a corner, I realised I had to write about what had led to me taking my first lesson, the huge life change that brought me to that pass. The previous title, which is not worth mentioning, the proposal and chapters I had written were consigned to the bin.
Soon after I made the decision to start over, someone was complaining during a lesson about the randomness of the dressage letters on the arena walls — why weren’t they alphabetical, for crying out loud? Our instructor reminded us that “All King Edward’s Horses Carry Many Brave Fools,” and I nearly fell off the horse I was on. “Many Brave Fools” suited the work well.
The title encompasses not only the horse world, but also the world I once inhabited, in which I took on someone else’s addiction every day, bravely, while foolishly believing that I could make a difference. The “many” is one of the gifts of 12-step: I wasn’t the only one. I wasn’t the only brave fool who thought she could defeat addiction, that control was love, that I was responsible for someone else’s well-being, that it was all my fault. The “terminal uniqueness” I suffered bit the dust, and in being one of many, I could take that bravery and apply it to myself and my own needs.