Friday, December 31, 2004

Exquisite Caution

When the tsunami struck on that fateful Dec 26, my first human instinct was to detach myself from the tragedy.

I failed. Somehow my clown instinct has taken the liberty to kick out that fear from my mind.

My clown-self pushing and cajoling me to go to the ground zeros around the region to play.

My clown teacher Shobi in her book, “ The Hospital Clown: A Closer Look” asked this very hard question.

“How can a clown play in the midst of a world of hurt?

It is the exquisite caution. This is caution without fear, caution imbedded in deep silence. It is the exquisite caution of the nun, the confident caution of the priest, monk, and rabbi and the delightful caution of a timid clown. You can all imagine Charlie Chaplin making his way through an earthquake area, just innocently finding things to pick up and investigate. He finds a small child playing with a torn doll and sits next down to her and begins to play in the child fantasy world – just being the vulnerable self. No big clown gesture, no hoopla. We may not laugh out loud, but our hearts would recognize the humanity and maybe bring us back to a spark of hope – the small opening that reminds us of the joy we all have inside of us.

I remember asking Arina Iscaason, my clown teacher, what if I begin to cry when a child cries. She responded “ then you will cry together.” It is the together part that the caring clown bring. The “ we are not alone in this tragedy.” It is this quietude that surrounds you that will invite trust – being present, observing without judgement, continually opening to the moment, moment to moment as only the innocence of the clown can do.

It is this sense of freshness and wonder of an innocent child that lurks in every moment, seeking to connect us heart to heart. The practice of exquisite caution gives us a stillness. We use this stillness to rest in the moment. We rest the fear of our reactive mind, take a deep breath to clear the mind, soften the belly and ask for the grace to open to higher wisdom. It is my experience that we get a great deal of help.

When proceeding into a risky situation with exquisite caution- trusting that inner wisdom, we may not see all the levels of our influence. Pride in our results can engage our ego, and flood our mind with reactive fear. Knowing we are not the ‘doer’ liberates us from results.

“Oh,”Thank you, thank you, thank you,” can be greeted with a knowing smile – knowing we are only the worldly vehicle of something higher. But keeping this ourselves is the practice of “non-doership”. This does not mean we are not responsible for our actions, it means we don’t need to take the credit. The power that flows through us will, in itlsef, engender such inner awe that another’s gratitude is not necessary. This is what renews the clown in our moment to moment travel. It is this quietude, trust and openness that will allow us to enter the traumatic space of disaster, suffering and death.


i am quite depressed at the moment thinking about the disaster. . just now during the solat jumaat , i just felt like to fly there right away and do my stuff; clowning for the traumatised children in the affected area. but i do understand that at the moment all relief efforts are concentrating on the search and rescue missions. pyschosocial support mission will usually comes in the later stage. Normally during the first stage of disaster, people are kept busy with searching the survivors and rebuilding their destroyed house and lives . Only in the later stage, people will suffers from depression and trauma and psychosocial support are most important. In the later part of the rebuilding lives , i believe i can be useful. I have emailed and sms-ed to my contacts in national relief agencies offering my service when needed. I don't have other things to give except my clown service to the traumatised victims. phewwww.... just imagine not even a year ago i was in bam and now it happened in my own backyard.

my clown teacher , Shobi emailed me yesterday offering help and prayers. I replied,

" Hi Shobi! me and sam 'uncle button' safe and sounds in KL. sam just got back from thailand few days before clowning in the northern thailand. he told me that phi phi island where he was there many years ago, just flattened within seconds when the tragedy struck on the 26th dec, it never occured to me that the tsunami hits us exactly one year after bam earthquake. At first we were thought that the damage is minimal.we were completely wrong. to date in malaysia, we lost 65 lives within seconds. hundreds were displaced. we were lucky sumatra island buffered the damage. but in sumatra, devastation is total. Strangely, I do not know whether i have the courage to go again and clowning for the survivors. but if they call me i will.i know the courage will somehow come to me. they have yet to call us. i think the priority now is to provide medical and humanitarian aid. psychosocial support will come in the later stage.


iskandar "

She replied today,

"Glad you are all OK. It's hard to watch it all on TV and not be able to do much. Everyone here is told to send money and I think in 3 hours our local TV station raised US$ 30,000 for the Red Cross. People are all very concerned. I think clowns have to sit on their hands for the moment. I've clowned in India and know it takes the people a little time to understand us. In their tradition anyone who wears a red nose and big mouth is a "demon" I also think the Indian peoples are very dramatic about their grief (which is a good thing as they express themselves) and a clown would be hard to understand in the immediacy of a crisis.

HOWEVER, after the immediate crisis is over, after everything has settled down, there sets in a great boredom -- long hours with nothing to do -- when people have to start their lives all over, rebuild their families, communities, find new employment. When the spotlight of the media is finished with the crisis, then the clowns can do their job. We can bring hope and cheer into the lonely corners of despair. I have seen this happen and so have you. Just a little bit of "We have not forgotten you" is so important. I hope that some clowns do get to Shri Lanka and Indonesia and Thailand in the months to come. I would certainly like to part of any of those groups and certainly will cover it in my newsletter. Keep me updated on what is going on. For sure, I'll see you at clown camp! Big hugs to you both.

Shobi "

Ah! it is a gloomy day indeed.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

bloo-ing bubbles

can't find my former blog.forgot my password.

created a new one here.