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.