I read something this week that broke my heart: Most kids don’t like clowns. Few see clowns as funny anymore. One survey indicated that out of 250 kids from 5 to 16, not a single one wanted a clown around to cheer them up when they were sick. Another survey said that some kids were scared by clowns, that clowns incited anxiety by their look and their presence. Increasingly, kids are uncomfortable around clowns, and respond less with laughter and more with annoyance, even apathy. If so, then it seems that what clowns are, and what they stand for, is a bother, an impediment, even a cause for revulsion, anger, and sometimes fear. They are no longer welcome, and their efforts are not appreciated or understood. They are in the way.
I have always loved clowns. I mean really loved them. And most really don’t make me laugh, to be honest. They didn’t when I was a kid, either. I wasn’t that caught up in their skills, or how well they performed. I was never a fan of slapstick humor, and didn’t care how many of them could fit into one of those little cars. I liked them because I think at a very young age, I understood who they were. They represented a part of life that I recognized was all around me, a role that was played by a few to get attention, to make people laugh, and to be loved.
I have known the class clowns, the kids that made other’s laugh, often at their own expense. The class clown in my school wasn’t one of the “in” crowd. He tried so hard to be, and he carried his act to the playground. There, he was made fun of, often ridiculed, but told me that he didn’t really mind. He got to be with these guys, and “it was better than being alone.”
And he was so lonely. He tried so hard to be liked. Often, when he was with me, he would be so grandiose and unbelievable that it was almost painful to watch. But, in time, if I just smiled and laughed a little at him, he calmed down and we played together. He just wanted a little attention, and once I offered that to him, he relaxed a little and became more of himself.
I felt so grateful that he was himself with me, that he felt comfortable enough to tell me a little about his life-that his dad was abusive to him, could cut him to the core with his words and had hands of iron. His mom, though kind, could never protect him enough. Gratefully, she saw the heart of her child, and I could tell how much she loved him, and how he knew that she wished she could do more.
I then completely understood why he became the Clown. He really loved people, and wanted them to love him, but he felt disappointed and afraid. He seemed like such a sensitive kid, and yet couldn’t come forward with his true self; he couldn’t risk the rejection, the hurt from the misunderstanding. It had been so routine at home, and was an almost unbearable risk with his peers. Being the Clown kept him engaged. Masking himself behind his behavior and silliness shielded his soul from hurt, yet drew forth laughter and affection. It didn’t matter if most of the attention was addressed toward the Clown and really not to him. He invented the clown for that purpose: to protect his heart and feel, from being among people, a little bit of love and kindness that he was afraid he wouldn’t receive if he was out there, just being himself.
And I think this is a prevailing condition among all of those who try to be Clowns. They try to make us laugh. They do what they can to lighten the atmosphere. They provide distraction. Their timing isn’t always perfect. What they do or say isn’t always right for the moment. But their hearts are sincere, and their intentions are good.
Soft is the heart of a Clown. Their motivation is to facilitate love and bring forth happiness. Through their smiles, their entertaining spirit can move us away from our pain. Theirs may be from their own inner struggles, but their hope is to bring others a sense of happiness. They know how we feel. They want us to feel better.
A true Clown is a conduit of joy. That is their intent. That is their goal.
We should see them as nothing else.
By entrusting us with your feelings, we help you take steps that you see necessary to begin and put forth the energy to make the needed change.
Now notice something: Trust in a coach, mentor, or guide helps you see what's in front of you. We see a Coach for Your Heart a little like an emotional Sherpa, somebody that helps you climb your mountain by pointing out where to best step along the path.
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