I probably haven’t told you that I’m taking clown classes. Well, they’re not really classes, it’s more like a practice space where we get to know our inner clowns better. All of us have clowns within and I’ve seen how mine has so much to teach me! In one of our sessions we played with natural objects like dried flowers, bark and plants. We worked in pairs: one person pretended to be the object and as their clown partner interacted (sometimes in rude and curious ways) with the leaves or flowers, we imagined that our bodies were being manipulated in the same way. My natural object was a little succulent in an oversized coffee cup. It’s a fragile little guy and as I moved and touched it, many of its little leaf-nubs fell to the floor. Even wearing the hat and red nose of my curmudgeon clown, I soon found it impossible to be present in the exercise; I was obsessed with picking up the fallen pieces of the plant. It was unimaginable for me to leave that mess on the floor; even though, obviously, I could have cleaned it up later.
Hope has always been a ubiquitous and elusive character on the inner stage of my life. I admit that mostly, I’ve been quite skeptical of her. Over these past fifteen years, I’ve adopted a vaguely Buddhist view that hope is a form attachment to a certain preferred future; fear’s undeniable and constant companion. It is said that we fear that which we believe will cause us pain, and hope for that which we believe will bring us pleasure. Yet my recent life experience shows it’s not quite that straightforward. This skepticism has been punctuated by momentary glimpses of other ways of relating to or defining hope: the way it has kept so many peoples alive through devastating circumstances of inter-generational trauma and systemic oppression; the occasional definition of hope which unhooks it from the attachment to a particular outcome;* during the time in the months after Rafael died and I had to figure out new ways forward; when we conceived Ramona and I felt hope dart in, briefly.