The Joy of Clowning
‘From Joy springs all creation, by joy it is sustained.
Towards joy it proceeds, and unto joy it returns’ – The Upanishads
The clown is synonymous with joy. S/he is the embodiment of our spirit of delight and wonder. The clown expresses our aspiration to keep this feeling fresh and strong. Along with our set-backs, and our rise and fall of emotions or fortune, the clown celebrates what it means to be human. Our love/hate relationship with gravity sees the clown forever attempting to strive upwards, only to fall – or slip on the proverbial banana skin.
We’ve come to view daily life as a contest to be won, a ‘drag’ to be overcome, rather than a dance to be enjoyed. When people have their heads stuck in the icloud, and their feet rarely touching the ground, the disconnect between head and body requires major surgery. With so many options out there, and so much of our lives spent in the digital world, the disconnection outwards with the real one is also the new reality.
The clown invites us to be aware of whom we are. This involves not just looking in the mirror, but delving deeper. To enjoy being yourself in today’s terms means being present, committing to connect with yourself and those around you. Only then can we accept our self and yes, come to love that person.
Clowning allows us to explore the extremes of our basic needs, our desires, and our dreams. Being able to laugh at yourself is one giant step along the way to becoming whole. That’s where we get the word ‘holy,’ for there is something sacred about the process of being silly. (‘silly’ is from the german ‘selig’ which means holy.)
As Arthur Koestler said, ‘Ha ha can lead to ah-ha!’
Clowning is much more than a useful method for fulfillment. It is a vital element of human nature. The clown’s simplicity is a symbol for our core strength, the power of love over fear. And the clown’s innocence is a metaphor for our integration, our reconnection. When the clown’s toolbox is not opened enough, some tools can get rusty. Play, laughter, song and dance may seem better left to children, or to professionals.
But what if every time we speak, we sing? And every move we make is dance? What if every breath is laughter, and every thought is play? After all, every thought is a creative act, a sudden glorious notion, and ‘considering’ is a process of playing with possibilities. Every breath is connecting out with in, JOY-ning in with out.
Looked at in this light, joy may be closer than expected. Not down some garden path, but in our DNA. It’s already here, right under our (red) noses.