I’ve just returned from Amman, Jordan with Patch Adams and 20 Gesundheit! clowns from around the world. We visited Syrian refugee camps, and schools, pediatric cancer hospital, and clowned in the streets. It was for me once again an experience that lifted my spirit and restored my faith in a shared humanity.
I have no special talent for clowning, I don’t juggle, play an instrument or perform, people just laugh when they look at me. They see a 6’6″ ballerina in pink tights and tutu, wearing a flamingo headdress, and they may not double over in hysteria, but it always elicits at least a giggle. People love to have their picture taken with me, which serves as an invitation to talk.
People need to tell their stories, and connecting to someone who listens with an open heart can ease the pain. My translators were Jordanian medical students with whom I bonded deeply. Through them I spoke with children while painting mustaches on their faces, and with angry and despairing young men who sought vengeance. I spoke with veiled women who would not look at me directly, and with an old grandfather who touched my heart and reminded me why I clown.
Hassan looked older than me but was in fact 10 years younger and told me that he lost everything he had, and was now left with what I saw around him. Still, he considered himself lucky because he had his whole family around him. He was surrounded by love, and he had faith that things would turn around. I asked some questions, but mostly I listened to Hassan’s story. He lives in a 10′ x 10′ tent provided by a UN relief agency; it has a propane stove in the middle, sleeping mats, and boxes of food around the edges. There was neither electricity nor running water, a communal water tank and one squat-down toilet with a water bucket next to it for flushing.
When Hassan hears the musicians playing he gets a small flute and joins them for a spontaneous jam session. I watch him and marvel at this man who owns nothing, but does not focus on what he has lost; who can make music in this place of depravation, and change a story of suffering into one of resilience.
Before leaving, I tell him he is an inspiration to me and I am honored to meet him. Hassan flashes me a peace sign, thanks me for coming and tells me he loves me. I tear up and tell him I love him too.
Love and hope are the opiates that ease the pain of our suffering. .
( see pix)
PS. The only healing workshop I’ll be doing this years is coming up Nov. 17-19, 2013. If you are interested in magnifying your power to heal yourself and others you won’t want to miss it. Go to www.healingdoc.com for details.