18 – Once upon many times
Becoming a Humanitarian Clown has changed my life. Today’s post is about how my personal life has been renewed by opening my heart to the world.
These weeks as Christmas time/Hanukkah is upon us, I ponder what I have achieved in my life. My feelings are a mixture of amazement and forgetfulness. Sometimes it seems as if I am at the bottom of a ravine: looking up the sides of a humongous mountain, I feel a strain at the back of my neck and out of breath when considering the immensity of the journey still ahead. And yet, at other times, I sit down and contemplate the road I’ve travelled. That’s when I get amazed.
How could I have forgotten? Just before leaving for India I felt I had reached the bottom of my barrel. I felt I had emptied it of all my past, all my traumas. Yes, I still had bucketful of tears to cry for healing to complete itself, but I felt I had said it all. I also sensed that right under the bottom was a pure light of joy, love and happiness. It was just there, out of reach! I couldn’t understand why I was stuck inside a barrel! In any case I had forgotten about all this as I left on my Humanitarian Clowning mission.
In India, as I opened up, shared and discovered unconditional trust, cracks started to appear at the bottom of my barrel. Through these openings a light filtered in and there came a soft-spoken realisation: ‘I am a good man!’ I wept at this gentle revelation. Something so simple had a deep profound impact. Once opened, there was no closing of the gap, ever again. It tasted so sweet and had the freshness of an early morning sea breeze! It was grand! My bottom was about to crack open! Yet, tears of sorrow came as my journey in India was nearing its end. I was scared of losing this new feeling, this new self I had just experienced. Days later I was gasping for air as the plane lifted up. I have since been holding my breath in hope.
A month was about to pass and I had to let go. I was turning many shades of red as I was choking on stale air, and in danger of suffocating the ones dearest to me. Letting go is hard to do, and hardest when it’s close to the heart. This was one more hurt, one more heartache, one more knot in a long line of painful twist and turns. And yet this time it felt different! Not all was lost. I felt something new. Something that transcended the pain: ‘I am a good man’! The light had remained and was shining through as Faith. I now had a Faith, an unconditional trust in me: ‘I was a good man’!
I had gained some new perspective. Now I could look up the mountain, and I could also look down and appreciate the path I had travelled. I saw that my experience in India was a follow up of what was set in motion in Guatemala. There I had learned to accept my vulnerability, accept my ‘self’ as I am. Accept, so to speak, what was ‘inside the barrel’. Again, I had barely started to live it that I had to leave right in the middle of the process!
Now I could see further down the road. Sometimes I had to step over fallen trees (expectations), other times getting wet crossing a stream (relationships), or jumping over some crevices (crises). Looking back, it feels as if I had been carrying a heavy backpack (or barrel), being weighted down each step of my journey. I now understand that progress came when I felt I couldn’t go any further, when I thought I would fall off a cliff or I fell to the ground, getting bruised on the sharp rocks of self-judgment. Pain had become my motivation for making changes! I now realise that each change came at the cost of giving up part of who I was.
I now looked down a year ago, when I decided to leave work. Two years ago with the passing of my father, five years, ten years… I see happy moments, sad moments. I see dozens of the most amazing people who came into my life: lovers, healers and friends who held my soul and helped me heal and forgive. Over the years I have left so much behind that I have forgotten how much weight I used to carry. It took a new crisis to remind me of the many challenges I already overcame. Yes, sometime the best thing to do is simply to sit down and enjoy the view.
It’s time to come home
Resting by the barrel, I can now appreciate where I have been, what I have left behind, and ask myself: where do I go next? Then it hit me: I am actually sitting outside my barrel! For the first time I can see it under a new light: the light of Faith radiating through it. I no longer need it, it is empty and the time has come to leave it behind.
But what was it made of? I feel it is made of all the unspoken rules of conditional love, along with the physical threats to my life had I dared to speak up. It is made of Silence and the Laws of Total Compliance (Resistance is futile). As a person I could only manifest myself through them. It may have spurred me into becoming a visual artist and a musician. Through these non-verbal forms I could live out my passions. I still remember in my first art class how I declared: ‘I have nothing to say’.
English also became my surrogate parent: I used it to free myself from my censuring ‘French mother tongue’. Humor became my lifeline as I embraced Saturday morning TV cartoons and collected comic books. The absurdities of Monty Python and Benny Hill became beacons of hope for an alternative reality. Today, as I have chosen to give love as a Humanitarian Clown, I see all of these skills coming together as one!
Choices and changes
As I reflect on my journey; I feel it was not so much the emotional emptiness nor the physical pain that distressed me the most: it was the sentiment of never having any choice. Looking back I realise that positive changes came as a result of either making or giving choices; never from burying my heels into the ground or imposing unspoken rules.
I can now embrace change! The unknown and unexpected are becoming a source of pleasure as I am looking forward to choices! As Captain Janeway of Star Trek Voyager often said: ‘There must be another way!’ I now have acquired the freedom of making choices. Back in India, the light came as I consciously made a first choice… Am I a good man, or not? I choose: I am! And in this light, I am finally home.
As a Humanitarian Clown this is what I can now give to the world, the freedom to choose! As Viktor E. Frankl wrote so beautifully:
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Peace to you all
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