The career trajectory of a clown

a birthday riff on goals and shared experiences

I remember the moment it happened. I was in my second year of university. I had just left the theatre. The play that I saw was an exploration of anger. The performers were clowns. The sensations in my body were unfamiliar. I felt like I had drunk jet fuel. I felt all of my nerve endings prickling with static electricity. My arm hairs were standing up on end

I felt so alive.

I knew then that I wanted more of that. More of that feeling for myself. More of that in the world.

What was it that I was experiencing? I’m not sure. They described it as a clown play. The whole clown thing made a lot of sense to me in a whole lot of ways. I saw how laughing while dying reconnected the dying with each other. I saw how laughter connected the dying with their sense of pleasure, of joy and their own vital energy. I learned this a few years prior. 

This play showed me that deep and heavy laughter not only has psychological and psychological impacts, but spiritual ones as well.

It was then that I vowed that I would live my life as a clown.

What does a clown’s career trajectory look like?

Unexpected, by accident and with a fair degree of randomness - of course. We agents of chaos struggle to do things on purpose. Most of my best decisions have been the results of mistakes or by following one bad idea with another one. It’s working out. Somehow. The somehow is the art of it.

So here I am, on my 49th birthday writing to you letting you all know that I, like Columbus, have just discovered something. I have learned about a great new secret. This secret? Goals.

I know. Crazy idea.

Goals. 

At 49 years of age, I now have goals. Just a few.

I’ve learned how to set them, break them down and work on them everyday.

I guess I must be all grown up. I’ve done enough pratfalling, exploding, flailing, kicking, screaming, tumbling, rolling, skipping and bouncing randomly towards the horizon. I must be ready to have some goals.

I have some big ones and some little ones.

I have set deadlines and timelines.

I’ve learned how to break them down into steps.

I know what I can and can’t control.

I have things that I want and need to do everyday in order to reach these goals.

I’ve also learned that it’s important to share goals.

Apparently it makes the whole shebang more real.

Sharing them seems like a risk.

Sharing them seems super intimate.

And?

Since today’s my birthday, I’m going to share a couple with you:

1: Four books written and self published by February 28, 2022.  I’m well on my way with this one. The first two seem clear and my path for the third one is beginning to show itself to me.

You, dear reader are a HUGE part of me reaching this goal. The gift of your time, trust and attention is something that I am deeply grateful for. Thank you. I wouldn’t be inching along towards this without you.

2: I want to be shopping for a horse that I’m able to afford to pay for by this time next year.

This is going to require me raising my income by quite a bit.. In order to do this, I’m learning new skills around facilitation. I solve problems with individuals. I help them become more creative. I want to do this with organizations and systems. 

 I’m also now very aware that this isn’t something I can do myself. I’m finding partnerships with a couple of people, deepening relationships in order to reach this goal.

So though much of my career was spent moving forward with randomness, it feels like I’m leaving the clown shoes behind. I’ve shared a couple of goals. I have a few more too, but these seemed easy enough to share.

Moving forward with purpose is really new for me. As a clown my goal was typically to be present and look for laughter. That goal will always be part of me. And? As a clown, I was always looking for others to share the experience of the moment with.

Goals have helped me feel stronger. Goals have helped me feel certain, not that I’ll reach a destination, but in order to know what to do next.

I’m still a clown, so I’m still looking to share great feelings with people. I’d love to hear about what goals are giving you strength and how they help you feel better in times of chaos.

For my birthday?

I want to connect more with you guys.

I want to hear about your goals.

Are any of you working towards improbable, outrageous goals that seemed like a stretch when you set them?

Tell me about them. It would be wonderful to hear what kinds of big things you’re cooking up.

And, if we all read about a few of each others goals, we likely will feel less alone in the world.

Which is a goal of mine that underlies everything that I’m trying to do with this darn newsletter.