Friday, September 19, 2014

Tears Of A Clown

I have to tell you, and I hope I don’t offend anyone by writing this, that clowns are kind of creepy.  I really never thought they were funny, and for just about forever, I was or am creeped out by them.

I mean:  white face paint, big red nose, floppy feet, painted on smile . . . see what I mean?

Remember the Stephen King classic, IT? 

The “bad guy” in the novel was Pennywise, the clown, whose tag line was, “We all float!”  Now tell me if that isn’t creepy!

In the old days . . . yes, even before my time, though not much . . . there were court jesters.  They were to amuse the court and the king in particular.  The unfortunate aspect of their job, however, was if they failed at being funny, they were sometimes put to death.  Not necessarily a job I would apply for.

Parades have clowns.  The circus has clowns.  Balloon animals.  Stilts.  Funny bicycles.  All that.  It has been a part of our culture and in spite of what I write or how I feel about them, clowns will always be around.

It is the concept of the clown I find interesting, though.

Smokey Robinson sang a song back in the ‘60’s titled, Tears Of A Clown.  The lyrics included:

Just like Pagliacci did
I try to keep my sadness hid
Smiling in the public eye
But in my lonely room I cry
the tears of a clown
When there's no one around

I know any number of people who can apply that lyric to their life, their feelings.  I see kids in the hallway, teachers working with their students or with their colleagues, who I know are moving through life carrying an unkind and heavy burden they might not be able . . . perhaps unwilling . . . to share with just anyone because it isn’t safe to do so.  There is hurt, there is sadness, and in that hurt and sadness, vulnerability.

More recently, Zak Brown sang a song, Goodbye In Her Eyes and it contains the lyric:

Sometimes I feel like a clown
Who can't wash off his make-up

Sad, really.  A clown . . . a person . . . somebody . . . who hasn’t received permission from him or herself, from others, to wash off the make-up.  Cast in a movie of life to live a character of perhaps his or her own choosing.  Perhaps of someone else’s choosing.  Never to be real, but just a character . . . a caricature.  Really sad, I think.

The actor, Jeff Goldblum was on an evening talk show discussing his role in a movie and the host asked the question, “How hard is it to get into a role?”  I will never forget his response.  He said, “It is only in acting that we are our true selves.  It is in life we play a role.”

Hmmm . . .

I think he has a point.  Kind of scary. 

A pretty tall order, a tough task: To know the difference between our true selves, the role we play, the mask we wear, and the make-up we’re afraid to or can’t wash off.  To be cast in a part, a role, of our choosing or someone else’s choosing.

And even sadder is the fact that we don’t recognize the sadness behind the smile, the sadness that rests in one’s eyes, the hurt disguised in the laugh.  Of kids.  Of our colleagues.  Of our leaders.  Of those in charge.  Of those we rely on for help and strength and inspiration.  Instead, we presume, assume, that all is well because a tear hasn’t been shed, a cry was not heard, a plea for help was not uttered.  And because we don’t recognize that hurt, see the tear, hear the cry or plea for help, we don’t reach out, we don’t offer help.  We just move through our day thinking all is well with me . . . with you . . . with them. 

Sad, I think.  Really sad.  Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

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Thank you for your comment. I welcome your thought. Joe