What is something you wish you knew how to do?
Had I been asked this question as soon as yesterday, my answer likely would have been play the guitar with the ability to pick melodies, as opposed to simply strumming. Or speak any language I want fluently after only a few weeks of trying. Or be able to hit a home run over the fence.
But I received some tough news this morning, and all those answers seem so superficial and trite.
Over a decade ago, when I lived in Toronto, I took a Discover Your Clown workshop because my brother had taken it and absolutely loved it. He wouldn’t stop talking about it, and thought that I would enjoy it and get a lot out of it.
I had falsely assumed that I would be learning how to walk in massive shoes, while wearing a rainbow wig, and a face painted obnoxiously. I was extremely skeptical, and had extraordinarily low expectations. But, holy shit, was I wrong. That workshop changed my life.
Helen, the teacher of that workshop, not only helped me discover my clown, but she helped me uncover an unadulterated joy for life. In one particular class, I experienced vulnerability the likes I had never thought possible. And surviving that has given me the sustained strength to survive anything and everything that life throws at me.
One of the pillars of red-nose clowning is to find the joy in all emotions. A skilled clown will keep their audience safe (and giggling), while dealing with heavy emotions such as sadness, fear, and grief. No topic is taboo. Everything — good and bad — is a part of life, and there is inherent joy and love in it all.
This morning, I learned that Helen will stop fighting the cancer that she’s been forced to live with for the past 2.5 years. Tears flood my eyes, making it hard to see the words I’m typing right now. Her impact on my life has been, and will continue to be, profound. I’m so grateful for the lessons I learned while under her tutelage. The pain I feel this morning is a testament to the extreme joy she has cultivated in this world.
To answer the question of what I wish I knew how to do, it’s so clear to me today: I wish I knew how to cure cancer.