Clowns get a bad rap. Many people are really freaked out by them. It’s ironic, when you think about it. Most clowns (unless they are pedophiles or serial killers), only want to make people laugh and smile. They are simply there to entertain. Very few career paths can make that claim.
But I’ve known several people who are coulrophobic. I get it. Clowns are masked, essentially, so you can’t be sure of their true intentions. And there have been plenty of evil clowns in media and literature.
For me, it’s all about context. Clowns don’t bother me at a circus or a festival or a children’s party. But put one in a dark alley, or in a tunnel, or at the edge of a forest, then, yeah… no bueno. At that point, even my instinct to think the best of everyone would be severely challenged.
Every once in a while, the world experiences a creepy clown epidemic. Teenage boys (the origin of most ill-conceived ideas) will dress up as clowns and wander the streets, making people nervous, or actively trying to scare people. If this is something you’re thinking of doing, I’d strongly encourage you to change your mind, because if your clowny ass tries to scare me, rest assured I will punch the red nose right off your face. And if I manage to stop there, you should consider yourself lucky, bozo.
Have you ever noticed that when a toxic coworker goes on vacation, the atmosphere at work visibly lightens? People are more relaxed. They are more prone to smile and be lighthearted. You actually hear laughter in the workplace again.
On the other hand, there are some people that can make you smile when you merely think about them. Others seem to bring energy into any room they enter. And still others seem to be a calming presence.
As unscientific as this will sound, I think we all have an impact that extends far beyond our corporeal beings. I like to call this the spiritual residue. It’s very important to consider the type of residue you leave behind.
Toxic people leave a sticky, unappealing trail much like that of a slug. If people tend to avoid you or dislike you, if you criticize more than you compliment, if words of encouragement are not in your vocabulary, you’re one of those slimy individuals.
I’d much rather be positive, upbeat and fun to be around. Instead of leaving slime, I’d like to leave a nice, fresh perfume in my wake. I want people to feel better for having crossed my path. I think that’s an admirable goal.
Me: “Why would anyone wash their hair with something that ends in ‘poo’?”
Her: “It’s a sham.”
Me: “I know, right? It’s not even real poo! It’s sham poo! If you’re going to do it, shouldn’t you go with the authentic stuff?”
I love conversations like this. Wordplay. Imagination. Humor.
Allowing yourself to be playful transports you to a different plane. For a brief, shining moment you get to remove yourself from the harsh realities of life and just have some fun. You also make someone else laugh, which is a delightful bonus. You can think back on the conversation during hard times and smile.
I’ve known people who couldn’t, refused to, or didn’t know how to be silly. I’ve always felt sorry for them. Silliness gives you opportunities to bond. Silliness makes for happy memories.
I was once washing a car with a guy and I squirted him with water. The way I was expecting it to go was that he’d chase me around the car, splash me with water, and a full on explosion of soap suds would ensue. We’d have created a memory. I’d be thinking of it right now and get a warm feeling about that person.
Instead, he froze, and looked at me with tears in his eyes. I apologized, and I never tried to be playful with him again. I felt bad, and I felt sad, but mostly I was hugely disappointed. Because I could see all the missed opportunities for happiness in our future. And I felt that loss acutely.
I used to know someone who would never, ever smile in photographs. He said it was because he looked funny when he smiled, but he didn’t look any funnier than the rest of the world. If you looked at his vacation photos, you’d swear he always had a horrible time. But I think it was less about an unattractive smile and more about his “I’m a victim” philosophy.
He used to dress in black from head to toe as well. He wanted the world to know he was angry. He was still upset about how people treated him in high school, even though he was in his late 40’s, so heaven only knows what other long-standing grudges he held.
Yes, all these things were cries for help, and he definitely needed help, but what he didn’t seem to realize was that by turning himself into a completely passive sad sack, by making no attempts to help himself, he turned people off. After a certain point, the world gets a little sick of feeling sorry for you.
I’d see this recurring pattern with him. Someone would meet him, think he was a nice guy, pity all that he goes through, and maybe even come to his defense. For a while. Then they’d start to avoid him. Once you realize that a very large adult male has figuratively put himself in diapers and a pacifier and expects you to carry him wherever you go, you suddenly think, “Hold on, I didn’t sign up for this.”
I think the fundamental problem with his mindset is that, yes, martyrs are often revered, but they usually have to die to reach that point. And he is not only alive, but he’s also an emotionally draining black hole. No one wants to approach his event horizon, for fear of being sucked in.
I used to know someone who was so pessimistic that it was draining to be in his presence. I’m not exactly Little Mary Sunshine myself, but I do have a fundamental philosophical difference with that guy that we were never able to resolve. I believe your attitude can dictate your mood. He believes that you have no control over your mood whatsoever. He used to say, “I’m not going to paint a plastic smile on my face.” It made me want to slap the white off his teeth.
I really felt sorry for him. He constantly gave away his power. It was as if he was this helpless creature to whom happiness or sadness was bestowed, and he had no choice in the matter. It kind of makes you understand why some people make sacrifices to their higher power. If you have no control, the only thing you can do is cajole, flatter and beg. How exhausting.
In fairness, it must be much easier to keep your head firmly planted in your hind end like that. Then you don’t have to take any responsibility for the way your life turns out. But on the other hand, if you raise your head and look about you, you have the opportunity to see your situation in comparison with others who are worse off than you are. You have a chance to shift your focus. You learn how to solve problems, and most of all, you see the abundance that is spread before you.
This Thanksgiving, if at no other time, raise your head. Be grateful. Appreciate your unique life. Smile often. Who knows? It just might become a habit.