Joy to the world, Part 4
My Oath to you!
In this 4 part series I want to share with you how it came to be that Love and Humanitarian Clowning became my life’s purpose.
- Part 1 covers the transition period that lead me to leave for Guatemala with Patch Adams.
- Part 2 is deciding for Guatemala and the annual AATH Conference in Indiana
- Part 3 is how my experience in Guatemala turned my life around
- Part 4 is on Citizen Clown in Montréal and my upcoming trip to India
I will conclude this 4 part series with my Oath to you, wishing to inspire more love and growth for all Humanity.
Time to go home
It was now time for goodbyes. I felt weary of all the feelings I lived, and yet, I felt an inner peace ebbing out of me. Rob was my brother, I knew that, and Jerry was… well you’ve got to meet him, he’s unique! Some of my clown friends stayed behind in Antigua. We were sad to leave them. The rest of us regrouped around the table for our last communal supper. Jerry, Rob and Chappo were exchanging puns : ”What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t come back? ….. A stick !” Then came a surprise chocolat cake from our new adoptive Mom, Francesca, and all our cousins, Nilo, Francesco and Marcelino of the Posada Belen Museo Inn: cake and song! So loving and wonderful!
After supper we sat in a circle for one last group sharing led by Ash and Pedro. In those few minutes, I had the chance to get to know more personally many of my fellow clowns. You see, I was still a shy person, but now I could accept it and share that I was scared and awkward with relationships. I now felt in a safe place. Sadly, gently we said our goodbyes as some of us were leaving in the middle of the night. The next day as the morning sun rose only a handful were left. Rob and I shared a cab. We talked about what was waiting for us back home, exchanged our best memories, hugged and went our separate ways. It was over… But as if by magic, at the last moment, as I was boarding the plane, I heard someone calling my name! I turned around and there she was: Carmen, the sunniest Mexican Clown I know. One last hug, one last smile, I turned around and boarded. The door closed and off I went.
I felt sad leaving, and excited at the thought of coming home! I would finally see my lovely daughter and wife. I was now a clown. I was filled to the brim with love and humor, so now, I did what came naturally: clowning in the plane. I was still dressed mostly as a clown; I would only need to put my nose and flowered hat on to reveal my true identity.
I smiled at everyone as I settled in my seat. A man was taking picture of his wife, so I offered to take one of them both. They were extremely pleased! I took out my puppet Jackô, put on my hat and nose, and asked him to take a picture of me with a poor innocent girl sitting in between our rows of seat. Everyone laughed and it set the tone for the rest of the flight. I only wished I had Jerry’s smiley heart stickers, they are an amazing icebreaker. I felt limited to how much clowning I could do before becoming just this strange guy.
Later I asked the stewardess about the free drinks a fellow clown mentioned. Well it was true, but only in first class! Then again, since I made her laugh, she said she would give me anything I wanted! Off she went and came back with two free drinks tickets! Being a clown does have its perks! Not only that, but when she brought my beer she deliberately placed the can on the ticket, twice!! So that I kept these two tickets and they will be good for my next flight in april…. How cool is that!
What happens in Atlanta doesn’t stay in Atlanta!
When we landed in Atlanta I had a fourteen hours overnight layover at the airport. I had decided I was going to sleep, somehow, in the terminal. I’m always ready to try out new experiences (and now I know this is something I would not want to repeat!)
As I got off the plane I walked towards the border patrol agents. They were all dead serious, so I didn’t dare being too clowny; I was still dressed very colorful. As I walked around, I noticed that being clothes this way made everybody else looks brown or black, muddy and drab. I was still in a happy mood (two beers and colorful clothes will help!). Being in Atlanta I was singing ”Georgia” to myself. When it was my turn to talk with the agents, she and her colleague were mildly amused that I came from Guatemala as a Humanitarian Clown. I mentioned Patch Adams, but to no avail, the name was only vaguely familiar to them. I proceeded to put on my red nose and my wonderful flowered hat! Now came the most beautiful smile and laughter. Suddenly their eyes light up! It was magic! We joked so much that their supervisors, from another desk quite far away, shouted: ‘Hey, guys, quit clowning around!’ which was hilarious! It became contagious! So in good humor she gave back my papers and off I went, once again convinced by the power of clowning! I’m sure they’ll have a story to tell back at home.
Tired, lost and confused, I made other people smile and laugh while asking for directions. I finally found Floyd the bus driver who would bring me to the right terminal where I would spend the night. Floyd appreciated the work I was doing as a clown. He many times underlined how I should come back to Atlanta and: ”do it for the kids in the park.” Floyd was as tall as Patch, a big black clean shaven imposing Atlanta kind of guy.. he means business. As I sat in the bus I started a conversation with an oriental women with a Paris tagged bag. She was a sales rep for Delta travelling the globe to pitch for the airline. She liked my clowning, and pointed me in the right direction as we arrived at the terminal. I asked her if I could give her a hug, and again clown magic made its work! I then proceeded to hug Floyd! Oopps that was a BIG mistake as he almost slugged me down! I hadn’t asked him before… My advice, unless you want to be clubbed to the floor: Ask first!!!!
So as a clown I brought joy in the plane, at the border patrol, in the bus, and it wasn’t over yet!
Eat, sleep and be merry in the twilight zone!
Now comes one of the most memorable part of my journey: After settling all the basic luggage and gate information, I walked over to the food court and ordered some warm meal. As I waited, the cashier at the counter started calling for a ”Brian”. No one was getting up. ”Brian?, Brian?” Dressed as a clown I started to call for Brian myself, and was joined in by two guys sitting further away. We all called for Brian! It became a big joke! Somehow there was a confusion as ”Brian” had picked up my order and I was left with his. Having finally resolved the mystery and gotten my supper, I asked to join the other the two other fellows.
Constantino and Alexander were two slender and well tanned young men. They had just passed a week at muscle beach in Miami. We talked and joked as they were overjoyed that I was a clown. Of course, they had to have their pictures taken with me. So I happily obliged and put on my full costume. As we discussed, they found out there was more to this clown than meets the eye, so the conversation got friendlier and more relaxed. They also had the longest layover and were also stuck here.
Now comes the fun part; we started to invite other people from the food court to join us in our craziness. If they looked lonely or bored we called them over. We got a brother and sister, Tim and Diana, who had missed their flight to Las Vegas and San Francisco. As the conversations went on I made sure that we laughed a lot. I made ridiculous comments about why we were here, why’d they missed their plane, on and on. It became a real Monty Python sketch. The sillier and more absurd the better. We learned they were Vietnamese and they were both nail stylist, which is funny in itself! My two friends were actually brothers from Germany. Now as if this wasn’t enough, we invited a young girl sitting close to us. She was a young Argentinian architect waiting to be picked up by friends of a friend whom she never met before. So the skit became that she was the most intelligent one of all of us, and how was it possible that she would get in a car with strangers while we were all friends and family here? And it went on and on and we had a ball. As the night went on other strangers came into our circle of laughs. I eventually said my goodbyes with lots of hugs and went happily looking for a couch to spend the night. This will be the subject of another post (I mean that dinosaur skeleton did look pretty mean!)
Morning came…. I got many inquisitive looks with my colorful clothes, but tired as I was, and having no stickers to give, I wasn’t up to much clowning. Yet, after admiring a wondrous sunrise, I felt my happiness recharged and boarded the plane with a big smile. Near the end of the trip Clown magic happened again! A passenger seated in the row directly in front of me decided to take a picture of the back of the plane. He held his camera facing backward to subtly take a snapshot; without looking into the viewer. As I’ve taken the habit of having my clown nose around my neck all the time, I hurriedly put it on and did this humongous smile and happy hands salute. He hadn’t seen me! So I waited and watched in glee as he uneventfully started to review his photos. I think he literally jumped out of his seat when he saw my picture! With a wonderful glowing smile he turned around and we introduced himself. His name was Hugo and he was a Chilean engineer (yet another Hugo, as in my first flight to Guatemala!) I asked if he would in turn take a picture with my camera, which he did! Clowning bring the best out of everybody!
Finally, after hours of travelling, I was landing home. My family was there to greet me, but, sadly, it didn’t go as expected. I felt something was missing, or out of place. We walked through the winter snow, got to my sister’s car and drove away. Reaching home, I opened the door to the apartment. Everything seemed familiar, and yet, different, foreign, as if out of sync. I felt as if I had been away for six months, while for my family, it was actually all of ten days. Nothing had changed for them. But for me, after living an intense immersion of love and happiness, all had changed. We had to recreate a new equilibrium. Tears, hugs and laughter ensued. They are all part of the clowning healing experience.
Who was I? Had it all been just a dream? Luckily, a newspaper columnist called me the next day : Patch was coming to town and she wanted a description of my trip. Later a television research assistant from MAtv called me to set up an interview. Still, most important of all, was Facebook! Christy, one of my sister clown, kept us all together as we all interconnected and got our ”Clowns on The Facebook …;-)” group going. It wasn’t a dream after all. I was still part of the Clown Family. Rob, Jerry, DeeDee, they were all there lending a helping hand and a shoulder to cry on.
I couldn’t dress with in my usual clothes! I tried, the waist line was fine but not the head space. I was a different person, I was a humanitarian clown. I now wear my bright colored clothes everyday in the streets of Montréal! Bright red foam noses in my pockets, camera in hand, I’m always ready to bring joy. Citizen Clown was in gestation. I phoned around hospitals to see if I could clown here, but it got complicated as I would have to go through a Doctor Clown association called Jovia. Meanwhile for three days I gave music improvisation workshops at a primary school dressed in full clown colors! Patch would soon be in town.
When he finally arrived I was just about to leave for my first ever Annual AATH Conference. I was also booked for a Sea Shanty concert at a local cultural center. That show was excellent! I’d put on my Shantyman costume…. Arghhh for Captain Guy! It was a great success and everyone had a ball! Eventually I was able to meet with Patch for a full 30 seconds, and those 30 seconds confirmed that I was where I belonged. Having appeared out of the blue, it took him a few moments to reconnected with me, and then he shouted my name : ”GUY!”. We looked each other in the eyes and hugged. At loss for words, I could only thank him for changing my life, at which he replied : ”No Guy, you changed your life, you did!”. Very wise words from a very loving man!
Lenny and the Association for Applied Therapeutic Humor.
Patch, Lenny, Barbara, Mary Kay, Maïa, Harald, Julie, Olga, Bron, Kathy, Douglas, Naum, Pam, Wendy, Ricky, Albert, Linda, Liliana… There are so many people who were like Socrates: my Midwives: ”My art of midwifery is in general like theirs; the only difference is that my patients are men, not women, and my concern is not with the body but with the soul that is in travail of birth….. all who are favored by heaven make progress at a rate that seems surprising to others as well as to themselves, although it is clear that they have never learned anything from me. The many admirable truths they bring to birth have been discovered by themselves from within. But the delivery is heaven’s work and mine.” I was in the process of giving birth to myself. (Plato’s Theaetetus)
As I went to the AATH Conference I wore my full Guatemala Sunday Best Clown attire and greeted everyone with a big smile and a hug. I felt I was now meeting all my Cousins, Aunts and Uncles after leaving my Guatemala Clown Family behind. I had never experienced such a feeling. Laughter was redefining my world view! I became camera happy and started to transform into Clowns every participant I would encounter. I discovered the meaning of the word ‘Selfie’! It became a sort of a challenge to see if I could get a photo of every member wearing a foam nose! The best compliment I had was when many told me they felt I had been clowning for years. It was literally just a few weeks! The expression ”you’re a natural” was often used. Still feeling insecure, those words were just what I needed to hear.
As the days passed I made many new friends and met some of my donors for my Guatemala fundraiser. I finally saw Lenny, my mentor, my Godfather. Lenny Ravich is the author of the bestseller A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Enlightenment, and the namesake for the ”Shalom” scholarship I received to attend the Humor Academy. I had seen his videos on YouTube and befriended him on Facebook. As we met, we got starry eyes and had the longest, warmest hug! And so it went during the whole conference as we hugged and hugged each time we met. I declared him the best male hugger of the AATH (Karen was the best woman hugger).
At last my path was becoming clear : First came Naum and Madan Kataria who had given me hope at the Laughter Yoga Conference in Toronto; then came Patch and my Humanitarian Clown Family who gave me the space and love so I could give birth to myself; and finally Lenny and my new AATH Family were paving the road ahead for my new life, showing me where my future could lead me. I was now ready to become Citizen Clown!
Being enrolled as a first year student of the AATH Humor Academy, I asked myself how could I best contribute to the growth of humor in everyday life? I was already walking around the city, noses in my pockets, always ready to ‘Clown’ a friend or a stranger. I also wanted to tell the stories of the amazing people I met; to share how beautiful and magical their clown transformation was. Out of these feelings was born yours truly: Citizen Clown. My mission : To bring joy and laughter through the transformative power of clowning.
I am now making plans for my next Humanitarian Clown trips. I had promised my Fabrica de Sonrisas friends that I would learn Spanish and come back to Guatemala. This time I will be taking my wife and daughter along! The three of us clowning together. I feel this is the biggest gift I could ever give my family: to share with them what I discovered and to make it a family mission. A legacy to inspire and that we could leave behind.
Finally, I discovered Tim Webster and his Humanitarian trips to India. As with my first trip to Guatemala, something clicked in me. I have this amazing opportunity next November to clown for three weeks in Tamil Nadu, visiting hospitals, orphanages, nursing homes, tribal villages and much much more. It’s crazy, it’s overwhelming, it’s scary, it’s another challenge for my wife and daughter, it’s beyond my wildest dreams, it’s beyond my imagination, and yet, when you know it’s the right thing to do, you just do it! So I’ve started to learn Tamil, one of the oldest language on earth, and set up a Fundraiser to make it happen. You can help me get there by donating at the top of this page, or read the full details by visiting my fundraiser page : Give Guy Giard Clowning in Orphanages in India
Joy to the world, my oath to you!
What a journey! It seems like a lifetime. I have been reinventing my life for the past year.
As a child I’ve always asked myself: ‘How is it possible that we send people to the moon while half the planet is starving?’ Today, as I will be celebrating my 55th birthday in India, my dream of changing the world is becoming a reality. I have now chosen to dedicate the rest of my journey on this earth to giving love with Humanitarian Clowning.
My wishes are many: I wish that Citizen Clown becomes an inspiration for everyone to live out their passions. I wish to become a living embodiment that change is possible at any age. And I wish that my writings and my speaking engagements finds those hearts and souls that needs to be healed. I propose that as Citizen Clown I will be your arms as I walk around this earth giving loving hugs and care. I wish to be your ears, your eyes and your heart, to tell your stories, and to make this place a better home for all our childrens, young and old, of this world.
This is my oath to you.
It is an honor to love you and to share this world with you.
Start the conversation by writing your thoughts in the ‘Leave a Reply’ section below!
If telling my story can offer a beacon of hope then I feel I have started to accomplish my task.
Guy Giard is a speaker and the author of the upcoming book ‘LOVE’s healing journey’ How to Triumph over life’s adversities.