Peace Clowning Around the World

I was two hours late to meet a Professor at Sydney Uni who is dedicated to peace. I wrote this today in a spirit of inspiration. I felt to record my experience as a peace clown, for my journey was to spread peace and to ‘be’ peace. Enjoy.

PEACE CLOWNING AROUND THE WORLD

My world trip was inspired and I felt strongly I had to do the trip. The feeling I had is that I cannot bring peace to the world until I am at peace in myself. The journey was to let go of control and learn to flow with life. I had no funds but I was offered a research job at the right time and it paid exactly the money I needed for my trip. The world ticket covered the places where I felt I needed to go. The idea was to clown when I felt like it, no schedule, just go with the flow. I practiced inner peace the whole journey as my intention was to overcome all fear. Peace for me is love and fearlessness. So I allowed life to show me the way to peace, as life is peace in truth.

My first stop was Bangkok, Thailand. I stayed with a friend of mine who was a Rotary Scholar and journalist seeking refugee status in Thailand. She is Congolese and former UN personnel in Kinshasa. She nearly lost her life in Congo. She was inspired by the peace course and she had attempted to teach young people (opposition militia) peace education and start a dialogue around nonviolence. She did this for the future of her own children. She went on television trying to spread the message of peace. She was warned by the authorities to stop. She said she was unable to stop as it was working. She was staying at a friends place, another journalist. She requested her driver to pick up her children. To her horror she found out her driver had been shot at her house and her mother narrowly escaped with the children. She was picked up by police. She was interrogated by police. As fate would have it, a childhood friend who had been helped by her father as a child, helped her escape, had he not intervened she would have been sent for torture and would not have been able to tell the story. I saw her life as gifted. She was acting out of purity, I feel that paved her way.

I was invited to teach Peace Education to Teachers at a University in Bangkok, it a was wonderful experience. It occurred at a time when the issue of the Red and Yellow shirts was on the public mind and how to resolve conflict. I like the idea of orange shirts (red and yellow) as in reality we often see ourselves in others and then see them as a ‘other’. To be a mediator is to be neutral and not take sides. To find commonality and areas where people are similar. When they divide they have demonised the other as somehow ‘bad’, this is how we create power bases, they have to fundamentally believe you are right, yet what if we saw it simply as a problem to be solved in the interests of harmony. The Thai’s have Buddhist statues across Thailand, perhaps they would be wise to look into the message of compassion and harmony, this will change their reality. Interestingly, the Dean of the school sat in and we opened up the possibilities of peace in the curriculum.

I visited the Rotary Peace Centre at Chulalongkorn University where I was trained in 2008. The Deputy Director was an American and we had lunch and discussed peace education and clowning. I met up with the administrative staff but found one of them in particular, to not share the same aspirations for peace, there was some judgmental towards me as I had been a controversial on the course. I had challenged an intelligence officer who had been charged with building bridges with the Muslim population in the south of Thailand. They had suppressed a protest and had tied up the wrists of the men and stacked them in a truck. Apparently 70 of them had asphyxiated. I asked questions in quick succession and in particular I asked are ‘protestors seen as the enemy’. I also filmed him as I felt inspired to. Interestingly enough what he experienced from me may have been seen as interrogating, yet my feeling was innocence. I hadn’t intended to do that I just had many questions in my mind. Some in the group felt I was being rude and probably this stuck with some of them. Yet had we conflict resolved the process they would have realised I was just curious. I respected him but culturally we are different. I am a woman too and in Thai culture women are not assertive as we westerners are.

Anyway after my meeting I left by the wrong exist and ended up walking past the Red Cross. I had a feeling to turn back and found out there were orphans there. I asked if I could come back and clown the next day. They agreed. Apparently Australians were adopting these orphans who had been abandoned by their parents. The reasons I was told were social problems of poverty, addictions and mental illness. Very sad I felt. The children were very young from just born to 6 year olds. I noticed when I came the next day a Ronald McDonald statue had been placed there and found that disturbing. I clowned with orphan children none of them had seen a clown but by the end they were all laughing. It was great. A young boy gave me a garnet as a respect for my coming and we bowed (wai) to each other. A very special moment for me.

I met with my friend Cherry who I met in Chulalongkorn hospital in 2008. She works in oncology (cancer unit) and always wanted to be a clown. She was a little different from her compatriots and enjoyed following her own rhythm. She had lived in London as well. We had an instant connection. I knew she wanted to clown and I couldn’t let this opportunity go by so we went to MBK a giant shopping centre and clowned around there. I juggled on the escalator going up there were thousands watching us flashing camera’s going off. We played with people by poking our heads over their shoulders, blowing bubbles, shaking hands, juggling, hide and seek and soccer in the corridors. All the retailers were laughing and feeling invigorated by our presence, it was out of the ordinary and almost magical. Then a couple of businessmen came up to us and in Thai they were asking Cherry what we were doing. I grabbed one of their arms and twirled them around. Apparently they were the Manager and Marketing Manager of MBK shopping centre. They actually wanted me to come back. But this was my last day and I was unable but perhaps it opened a doorway to the possibility of bringing joy to the shoppers. Peace making in a shopping centre, why not. My friend Cherry was so happy and she said she would never forget the experience. She wondered if people would remember. I said to her ‘they never forget’.

I flew to India, my only thought was Gandhi. I knew I had to go there. I arrived in New Delhi and was confronted by the poverty, but I said to myself, see this as your home, imagine that you come here all the time. When I did that I relaxed and let go, allowed the taxi to drive erratically realizing I have no control. This is a fundamental truth.

I just happened to stay with people interested in universal peace. They had a meditation space. Ironically they were situated in a Defence compound in New Delhi. The grandfather and I connected as we were both into peace and he appeared aware of great changes coming. His son-in-law and daughter were a very progressive Indian couple. I encouraged Navreet to clown with me. I went to a shopping centre with him and gave him some tips on clowning. His family members came as well to watch. So supportive of each other. The security were perplexed and tried to get me to leave, but my host’s family were all lawyers and they explained I was a peace clown and I was allowed to continue, I was not breaking any laws nor asking for money, just spreading peace. A hard notion for people to understand as everyone is seeking money. People were smiling and surprised, wondering why we were there. They were very happy to see us clowning and many interacted with great joy. It came across very positively, an anomaly in a place of commerce.

I traveled to Amedabad in India visiting Gandhi’s ashram. I felt strongly to go there. I arrived in the early hours but felt I had to go. I went and rested on the stone slabs at the outdoor museum surrounded by images of Gandhi. I cannot express my joy at coming home. I have spoken truth for so long in my life, many times feeling deeply alone but there I knew I was understood by one, even if he was no longer alive. For me he felt intimately alive. I went to the bookshop and saw his books, I could feel the tears welling up as inspiration was rising. I got it under control trying to think of something else. Then I found some books and went to purchase. A Satyagrahi was there (follower of Gandhi in white). I felt this wave of inspiration come over me and I started to cry. I was laughing at the same time for as I cry I feel this most beautiful feeling. I explained I am inspired to the Satyagrahi, that I feel Gandhi’s presence, which I do. She realized I was for real and offered to show me around the ashram. She unlocked Gandhi’s room and took me inside. I saw Gandhi’s stick he is so famous for using on the long march. I remembered a dream I had where he had come to me. He had been walking and it was dark all around, all I could see was the rims of his glasses, I couldn’t see his eyes. In that moment in the dream I was lower than my feet, a sense of great humility washing over me. I felt him acknowledge me and move on. Sitting in his room, this dream came back to me and the Satyagrahi and I talked of peace education. Later I had the chance to try spinning (wool into cotton). After my tour I was advised to go to the University in Amedabad dedicated to Gandhi. I met with the Vice Chancellor, he was sitting on the floor at his desk. Such a different lifestyle, interesting to sit on the floor and chat. We westerners are so stiff. He invited me to come to prayers. I saw 500 students there and they asked me to speak. All the students were facing the side wall spinning wool into cotton from their spinning wheels. This was the symbol of Gandhi and I was overjoyed to see it still surviving. A man rose to speak to the students, apparently he knew Gandhi. I watched him closely. Then it was my turn. All the students were focused on spinning and open to my message. I talked to them of being a World Peace Clown and I shared with them my trip to Kashmir and the human rights violations. I tried to encourage the Vice Chancellor to help the Kashmiris practice Satyagraha and ahimsa (truth and love).

The trip to Kashmir was to see a friend of mine who is a human rights activist. She has a phenomenal memory for history and human rights issues. She is a journalist and incredibly courageous. One hour after I arrived in Srinagar, the curfew came down and I was under house arrest along with 800,000 others. Ironically the Indian occupation of Kashmir also has 800,000 Indian troops. A cost Indians can least afford and the real price is the loss of freedom and self determination by the Kashmiris. Yet they are incredibly resilient and they find ways to defy the curfew. My friend and I went out in the evening and as we approached the soldiers, she said they won’t do anything, they will just call out to us because we are women. She tells me this with a twinkle in her eye. We walked past them and headed towards the lake. She met with a professor friend of her’s randomly and he invited her to come and visit with me. I spent much time with her family and discovered her mother was one of the first women to work in the bureaucracy, a working woman no less. She told me how the administration moves between Srinagar and Jammu. The time I spent there immersed in their culture was very inspiring. To see such courage but at the same time a fatigue from 63 years of occupation. We talked a lot about inner peace and Sufism as emotional and spiritual means to withstand the curfew. Ten days was difficult for me, my friend and her people endured 50 days. Those in the CBD of Srinagar had no backyard or means of getting outside, as many were in highrise buildings. So it must be causing such mental illness, anguish and despair. Many children have been shot because of stone pelting and this causes such anger in the people, then to be suppressed in curfew, you can imagine the stress of this. In peace studies we call this a pressure cooker as people need to be free to express their emotions and grief. Suppression actually creates violence, if it is not expressed outwardly then it is felt inwardly, often people end up with cancer of health issues, so a very unhealthy existence for people It is a lose/lose situation ultimately.

My travels took me to Egypt. I stayed with an Egyptian woman and navigated my way through Cairo with a piece of paper in Arabic. This I could show to find my way to Giza and back home. I found myself escorted by a young Bedouin man who took me for tea and told me of his life. He then took me to the pyramids where a camel man tried to charge me 200 pounds for a camel ride. I told him I am not a tourist I am here because I felt to see the pyramids. I felt the tears well up again, I know this is a spiritual feeling, I am meant to be here. He sees this feeling in my eyes and he drops his price. This is certainly a miracle as the camel owners usually put it up. I told him I don’t need a camel ride I am near the pyramids that is enough. His second price was fair and my feeling was to go. I was taken on one camel with a horse in front and around the pyramids. I felt myself in the baron desert as Cairo was hidden behind the sand dunes. I felt myself go back in time to the peace of the desert and these enormous monoliths standing silently before me. They were of a shape that is unusual, geometric shapes in precise formation. I sense more information from these pyramids and I felt the power of the pyramids, it brought tears to my eyes. The poem I wrote Encryption of a New Earth came to mind. In the desert I felt such peace and allowed myself to be carried by life. The camel man wanted me to come to his house for dinner, but my feeling as a woman alone and the fact they like to accumulate wives, I felt perhaps not. I was flattered he felt the connection though.

I had the opportunity to clown at a children’s exhibition in Cairo. It was 40 degree heat and I was sweating and very active. The children were just thrilled to see me there. I had an Egyptian woman with me who also chose to be a clown. It was great to bring this to them, as few had seen clowns. I jumped into the middle and danced and pulled out my juggling balls which glowed in the dark. There was great excitement as I clowned around and pulled people up with me. I took the children out as a peace train and I was warned not to go on the street as the police would stop us, I found that curious. The children were very excited and it was lovely and cool by now outside, would have been fantastic to take them further.

During this time in Egypt I had a strong feeling to go to Alexandria to visit the Institute of Peace. I understood it was funded by the University of Peace in Costa Rica. So I went overnight to meet with people. I went there and met the skeleton staff, the others had gone to a peace conference in Jordan. However, I was to find out Suzanne Mubarak was the patron. Later I received an email and was invited to come back on the International Day of Peace to speak about peace as a World Peace Clown.

Whilst waiting on the railway platform in Alexandria for the train to Cairo. I decided to do an experiment. I pulled out my juggling balls (dressed normally) and juggled. Imagine a western blonde woman juggling. It took everyone by surprise. Boys were very interested and I started to throw the balls to them. Then the men gathered around me in a circle and I pulled out my clubs. They called out where are you from. I said ‘Australia’. They said nice country. Everyone was very happy, the women were very curious to see a western woman making a spectacle of herself. Then to my surprise a policeman turns up and says I must stop. This was my first moment where oppression became visible. Moreover, I reflected on my conversations with a French person (Arabic speaker) who told me of the prison camps and the oppression of this regime. The corruption had been made clear to me by a man I met randomly in the subway on my way to Cairo University. This was the moment it became real for me. So Egypt had many faces. The one tourists see and the other that most of the people experience.

I journeyed to Greece and was interested in the question of democracy in Athens. I saw many anarchist symbols and felt the general malaise there, as many had suffered through the financial crisis. I saw some graffiti protesting the death of a young children by police. There was some anti-establishment feeling there. I then went to the Parliament and watched the changing of the guards. I decided to go up next to one of the guards and get my photo taken. I stood there with him then pulled out my juggling balls and started to juggle. To my surprise a soldier appears in front of me and says ‘what are you doing’. I said ‘juggling’, he said ‘do you know where you are’. I am thinking parliament. He said ‘you are at the tomb of the unknown solider’. In my clown humour I am thinking if he is unknown why are you commemorating him. But instead I said ‘I didn’t know’ which was true. Then he ordered me to leave. Then my Aussie friend who was couching surfing in the same place as me gets up and just moves her shoulder up and down. He gets very angry and we are both banished. I was very disrespectful and did laugh a lot, not meaning to be disrespectful as I walked away amazed at how seriously they took themselves. I also marveled at the contrast between the peace clown and the soldier. One focusing on the moment and the other thinking of the past, seeing the heroism in violence, yet I see the heroism in humour. We are same same but different.

I traveled on to the UK and spent time in London. I remember being with a friend, my first day out in London. I happened to meet can you believe, a peace activist on the train. Or rather she hears my voice and comes up and says ‘are you Susan the peace clown’. I said yes, she and I had met in Melbourne quite a few years ago. She was on her way to the Climate Change Camp in Edinburgh. We exchanged numbers really quickly and she got off. I laughed at the timing, what are the chances of getting in the same carriage and actually knowing someone here. I smiled inwardly at life and how fascinating it is. My friend I was with had to go to an interview. However, we arranged to meet after and went to a coffee shop. We got there and I started to talk with the café guy. I asked him where he was from but he was reticent to tell me. So I said I don’t mind where you are from I am a universal being. To my amazement a woman standing next to me pipes up and says ‘I am a universal being’. I gave her a broad smile and invited her to sit with us. Turns out she always wanted to be a clown. So I invited her to clown on the London Underground the next day and I would do her makeup. She turned up the next day at the appointed time. I did her up and then we went outside to practice. As we walked down the street this guy on a push bike comes past and I stick out my thumb (hitching). He stops and they speak in Hindi (both Indian backgrounds). Turns out he always wanted to be a clown. So I can’t say no, I have to take him. So we take him back to the house, make him take a shower (phew) and then he comes out. The three of us with my friend Jo hit the streets. She becomes my camera person and photo person. So we can record the event.

It was amazing to see the serious faces on the Underground, I zeroed in on a few children and generally juggled and blew bubbles. It is interesting to watch the social boundaries and the inability for people to relax and allow clowns to entertain them. They are afraid we will ask for money, for me my payment is smiles and just bringing the colour. It was a wonderful day and I even met another activist who was Irish. He invited me to meet with him when I go to Dublin. He knew a guy I had interviewed on radio called Ciaron O’Reilly, he was involved in ploughshares actions to disarm planes near New York destined for Iraq. He also attempted to disarm planes at Shannon Airport in 2003. They call it monkey wrenching in the Peace Literature. I had interviewed Ciaron in Australia through peace contacts. So we had at least met. Ciaron sent me a text message a month or so later. I was long gone from Ireland and out of credit, so just smiled. Funny how people connect through these random encounters. Is it chance or meant to be? A very interesting question. In my discussion with Edward de Bono I stated the latter, he and I agreed to disagree. I stand by my assessment today.

On the following day I just wandered around London and ended up finding people at a peace protest. I had a long discussion with them about positive peace and creating unity to inspire peace. To mainstream it. They took on board my ideas and we made friends. One of the guys was a poet and he quoted for me some poetry, it was incredibly beautiful. Then another guy who was Canadian came into our circle. He was a Rapper and he did peace type rap songs. So I recorded both of these people who were singing peace in different ways. I marveled at where my life takes me. I then traveled up to Scotland to visit sacred sites ‘the Ring of Brodgar’, ‘The Stones of Stennes’ and ‘Maeshowe’. I was interested in ancient cultures and how they found peace. This research I will continue as I feel we can learn from the past. Peace is sacred.

My world trip took me to Ireland. Irish eyes were not smiling there as they had been hit by the financial crisis. I clowned with a Quaker on the streets of Dublin. He was nervous at first but he was gentle and kind to the people. I juggled and interacted, again I could feel the sorrow. I did speak to a homeless guy who had been on the street for 6 years, he had 6 children but didn’t see them in years. He had been in business but it collapsed as did his hope for life. I told him he was a success as he had survived 6 years. I offered to write his story and send it to a paper. I asked him to send it to me. Sadly he didn’t, but I wrote his story anyway and sent his courage to a paper.

I traveled to Chicago and found an art student amongst a class of students at a private art school. I invited him to clown with me on the streets. He agreed. He did confess it was hard work but when you give love non stop to people it can be tiring. People don’t always respond and they can be unpredictable, but I find in general there is much love in the world and I just flow through it. We taught people how to juggle I gave away my expanding ball to a homeless guy for his son. We hugged on the street, it was truly beautiful. We found ourselves at the big bean, it looks surreal when you look up. I went back to my couch surfing hosts in an apartment looking over Chicago. Carly the lady became my friend, her work was to find amazing women who inspired people. She felt I may be one of those people. She has since been in touch with me and we have discussed women’s empowerment.

From there I went to Central America. I was hosted in Cancun, Mexico which was the site of the 2010 environmental summit. From the sky I could see why, it is all forest as far as the eye can see. I feel an inward joy when I see nature untouched, when I see no people, the pristine nature of mother earth touches my heart in ways that words cannot describe here.

I stood at Customs in a long queue in Mexico and asked in my heart why am I here? I then picked up a brochure to the exact page of Chichen Itza. As soon as I saw the Mayan pyramid I started to cry. I felt the spiritual feeling and felt enormous joy. My Mexican host met me at the bus station and took me home. He treated me to some traditional Mexican food. His house was a small square concrete dwelling with two rooms and simple furnishings. I could see he was not wealthy and I was keen to experience life in all its shapes and sizes. It was so great to be taken places and have him show me where the people go. He advised me to go to Talum and Chichen Itza. So I caught a bus. It was in Chichen Itza that I realized the power of pyramids. I felt the energy as soon as I entered the area. I felt the pyramid before I saw it. Before I knew it this overwhelming energy was all around me and the tears were there again. I couldn’t believe the power of it. I tried to hide my teary eyes from people as they would not understand the connection I felt. I fell to my knees as if in worship of this grand master silently before me. I stayed kneeling on the ground trying to come to terms with this overwhelming feeling and what it meant. I couldn’t make sense of it but I did feel a connection to this site.

Throughout my journey in Central America I did visit another pyramid at Tikal in Guatemala. For the most part I stayed with people in Belize, El Salvador and I ended up in the mountains in Montevarde, Costa Rica. It was in Costa Rica that I learned they had no army and put there funds into social programs and forests. They did sell off a lot of the forests but many believed it protected them. I found myself visiting a Quaker school in the mountains, I was very much at the mercy of life, I didn’t have anywhere to stay and was on a tight budget. I just said to myself, if I am meant to stay here someone will invite me. I ended up chatting to an American woman and she asked me to stay. I stayed a week and found another school called Creativa, I went and taught the kids peace education, on the International Day of Peace. The Egyptian invite was revoked at the last minute, but I couldn’t think of a better place to teach peace than Costa Rica.

I went back to San Jose and stayed at a hostel that was dedicated to peace. It had all the famous peace makers Gandhi, Tolstoy, Martin Luther King, Montessori and many others. I felt at home in their company. There was a peace library there. I ended up sitting in on a peace group meeting. They were activists and they allowed me to join them. I told them about positive peace and that for me, there is no enemy. That is not to say there is no greed, there is, that there is no violence, there certainly is, but I choose to use my energy in a positive peace vibration and I believe it creates the change. I don’t hate anyone. I told them of Patch Adams. Turns out he had been there only 3 weeks before, would have been great to catch up with him. They asked me to give a talk which I did as a clown. I find I can express peace more accurately as a clown as it reflects for me, the archetype of peace. For me the clown embodies unconditional love, acceptance, flow and love for all people. I believe in positive transformation whereby we transmute the negative to positive. I will not hate anyone, I am here to solve the problem and to show another way. So a few of the people were deeply touched and they deeply reconsidered their approach. One was particularly interested in the clown, she was a university lecturer. We kept in touch.

From there I travelled to Lima Peru and on to Arequipa and Cusco. In Arequipa I stayed at a hostel and met a New Zealand couple who I became friends with. I offered to clown at a school. They agreed and I was given the opportunity to clown and speak to 500 kids. My discussion was on peace, I juggled but also demonstrated resistance and allowance, I explained what we resist persists, what we look at disappears. We look right at it and the power of it disappears. I do not resist, I find myself looking for ways to empower people to see themselves as able to be peacemakers. To empower them to not react violently but to understand that peace is cooperation, dialogue and courage. It was very successful and one little girl followed me around happily. We became friends and I told her she can be anything, she said she would not forget me. I felt the bond. After the school I went on the street and up to the square. I clowned with people in the square and through my painted cheeks (peace, love) I was able to ask people what they thought. I actually interviewed them even though I couldn’t understand a word of Spanish. They understood my question and answered. There was such a positive vibe in the square, then the police came and told me I wasn’t permitted to clown there. Another form of oppression, interesting. I find clowning fascinating to interact with the crowd or audience live with no script, yet somehow I am able to see more, and through my presence communicate my message without language. Love is my language and as a clown I am permitted by society to express it without limits.

In Cusco I had the chance to clown with a local travel book store guy. He wanted to explore happiness, so I told him to come with me. We organized a gig at a local hospital. I then was to clown by myself afterwards with children from a special care unit at a hospital down the road. We had a great time going around the wards and spreading love and joy. I then went to see the children with disabilities. I typically make up my routine. I show the kids all my props and juggle. I work hard at interacting with all children. Even those who appear to not be responding I spend time giving love to them and assume they can hear and see me. I can pick up the smallest of response, so typically I know when I reach them. I so loved being with these children which I felt were all angels. One of the kids was very animated and she was shouting out very excited. She came up and danced with me in the middle of the room and hugged me. She was the one who didn’t want me to go. She had the most spectacular laugh full and hearty, a person not inhibited or indeed limited. The children all got their wheel chairs and surrounded me, they were trying to chase the clown. They were grabbing me and trying to stop me from leaving, they were full of smiles and joy. It was a beautiful experience and one I will never forget. The Director of this unit enquired if I was staying and said she would love me to help promote disability. I told her about it being promoted in Australia as not a disability but people that are just like us. 

I went to Machu Picchu the Inca village high in the mountains. This was another sacred site for me and one I’ll never forget. I found out that none of the members of their society would be allowed to be hungry, all were looked after in a spirit of oneness and unity. That interested me. Funnily enough I had been directed to join a group, turns out I was in the wrong one. One guy pointed out he had paid good money for his tour and he inferred he resented my presence believing I hadn’t paid. When in truth I had, but he didn’t want to share the space with me. I was not lost on the attitudes of me and mine, rather than we and ours. The Inca’s would have found the attitude foreign, as did I. When I climbed Wanupicchu, the mountain behind the Inca village, you could see the village was designed in the form of a condor. The mountains were majestic and for me, a sacred site. I found nature incredibly overpowering and a place of great peace. Sometimes when you come to places like Machu Picchu you wonder why we live the lives we do. Many working hard to survive and never able to visit places so sacred. We live in an incredible world full of wonders that are astounding.

I traveled to Bolivia and met with a local Quaker there. He kindly organized for me to go 3 hours out of La Paz to a school in the mountains. I taught the kids some clowning skills whilst talking to them about being a World Peace Clown and the importance of peace in our world. The next day I went back to La Paz and stayed with my friend Ruben’s partner, Rebecca. I stayed with a traditional Bolivian family. They worked very hard and the husband had been quite ill. He was very good at building machines with few resources, yet very resourceful. Ruben organized for me to attend a Quaker Gathering and give another talk to youth. I also did a laughter workshop with them, they really loved it and it was a great photo opportunity. Ruben invited me to a traditional Bolivian wedding. I took my gear with me to make the decision when I got there.  I had to be sure it was appropriate for me to clown.  I made a decision to clown at the wedding and the married couple were thrilled. I did a juggling demonstration and showed them my clown props. I also gave a clown blessing by blowing bubbles over the couple. The kids loved it and they followed me everywhere. I got dressed back into normal gear and of course everyone knew I was the clown, being a Caucasian gave me away. I had hundreds of friends and felt very welcome. It was a unique experience and treasured as I was part of their wedding which I felt was a great honour. It was great to give love in this way. I felt I connected with the people. The following few days Ruben took me to a school to give a talk on peace. As I was waiting outside to be beckoned in, a little girl around 5 years old took a shine to me or rather the clown. I made faces and laughed with the kids they were very excited. I was invited into the room. Then I see this little 5 year old braving this huge room with bigger kids from 7 to 17 walking by herself up the side aisle. She came up next to me and held my hand. Then when I placed my gear on the stage, the little girl sat there and played whilst I was in front of the kids. I was introduced by the Principal. I told the kids I was traveling the world as a peace clown and went into the audience, in some instances I sat on knees or lay down across a few students. In other cases I jumped on the wooden seats and literally stepped over kids to get from one row of seats to the next. I juggled my clubs up and down the aisle. I invited children to come up and tell us what they felt peace was and I asked questions about what is happiness. We recorded the responses. I found the kids enthusiastic and positive. I gave lots of hugs and had photo opportunities and felt the magical connection with others, as I lived the peace I teach.

From Bolivia I then travelled by bus to Argentina. I was starting to get very tired there and fell ill with a cold. I put out a couch request and was invited by some other couchsurfer hosts to stay. Turns out the lady there wanted to be a clown. So I took her out. I wasn’t that well and felt my energy low. Nonetheless I still went out. She was a great clown she posed like a statue, she put on the stethoscope and bounced into a medical practice with patients sitting there in rows. As she spoke Spanish she could find out more and communicate with humour. She put the stethoscope on their heads to find out if they were thinking or feeling. She had big love glasses on and she helped people carry their groceries, then she helped a tradesman with a large glass window. She was a natural. I enjoyed watching her. She visited a friend who was screaming with delight to see her as a clown, as was her partner, he was thrilled to see her clowning. It was a beautiful day and we spread much love and joy.

My clown friend had friend’s in Patagonia who would be happy to allow me to couchsurf at their place.  I travelled to Patagonia in Argentina and spent a week resting in an isolated area, in a sustainable house that was on the edge of a pristine river with the Andes rising behind the mountains were caked with fresh snow. It was so beautiful and fresh there, I felt I was in heaven and couldn’t believe the good fortune of having found this magical quiet place. I was able to just rest and reflect on my life and the joy of the journey. I stayed with a married couple who were building another house, so mostly during the day I was alone and being sick this was ideal to try and regain my energy.  So many good people had given me places to stay for free and fed me. I saw the beauty in the world and people kept reinforcing for me the hope and joy I felt permeating my being. I felt a deep sense of gratitude and the blessing of having taken this trip. The wonder of being a clown and the shared humanity I experienced as I clowned in so many cultures. Yet for me the Thai saying ‘same same but different’ always came up, as I saw more in common than difference. I saw each as my family and felt humbled by such an amazing journey.

From there I travelled to Chile. I managed to stay with 3 couch surfers over a period of 4 weeks. I was pretty sick by this stage but the joy within was enormous. I didn’t care about being sick I just felt deeply happy. I used the time to write my blog more and start to publish my poetry which felt more and more urgent. To communicate my message of peace was an inner desire to bring this joy into the world. I felt it is time to share what I know. For so many years I have felt inspired to write about love, peace, truth and life. I always knew when I was writing it, it was for a larger audience.

In Chile I wasn’t able to clown, although I was offered to go to a hospital, but I just couldn’t get the energy together. I met some wonderful people and one couch surfer actually gave up his one bedroom flat for me to stay a week. I was pretty sick so it was good to be alone and try and rest. I ended up meeting some Australian’s standing behind me in a supermarket queue. I heard their accents and started chatting. We ended up going for coffee and I told them I was going to head to Queensland as I was considering going to university to study biology. I found myself fascinated by the idea of somehow grafting biology and social systems in order to find our true harmony.

The last leg of my world trip was to New Zealand. It was unmistakable that I was in familiar territory as New Zealanders are very similar to Australians. I felt very happy there as my former husband and I travelled there quite a lot, he was a kiwi (New Zealander). I did stay with a host this time who was not so helpful and had some negative attitudes, however, I practiced peace. I realized I have to find unconditional love in myself, I have to be able to feel the compassion, I do not know the story of others, how can I sit in judgement? I can create my own boundaries of what I feel is acceptable in respect of myself, but ultimately people are responsible for their lives. The lady who was with this host was the total opposite, incredibly kind and considerate, a very humble person. She had been a nurse and was working in a nursing home helping the elderly. She organized for me to clown there. I also decided to clown at an Environmental Exhibition in the heart of the city. The exhibition connected the environment to peace and I was interested. So I asked the organizers if I could come as a clown. They agreed. As soon as I appeared the kids all came around and wanted photos. Then I went into the exhibition and asked people about sustainability and created some humour around it. Many people I talked to had no idea what to do about the planet. The photos they were viewing were taken from a hot air balloon by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. He called the exhibition ‘Earth from Above’, this was sponsored by UNESCO. The people were inspired by the exhibition but either couldn’t think of anything, or articulate their voice, I was surprised. Even the children were struggling with what to do for the future. I felt this subject must be discussed more and the apathy and uncertainty I witnessed, to be engaged in realistic terms, to connect it to day to day life. Many I feel were disconnected from nature and couldn’t conceptualise the reality of it and imagine a new world. This is a central issue. After that I walked to a giant world map on the ground and played around jumping from country to country.  I again chatted with the kids and played as a clown with them. I told them their generation will have to solve these problems, it is a great challenge that we can solve together. I jumped on a skateboard and tic tacked around, the boys were surprised and smiling, it created a bridge to chat to them as one of them. Then I noted the time, I had to leave, the host’s partner came and collected me and took me to the nursing home, for my next gig.

At the nursing home I spoke of my world trip and danced with some old folk. I also juggled for them and interacted with staff. I was making it up as usual and tuning into the people. It was interesting to come from a public space to the elderly. Some were non responsive as they were fairly old and with dementia. However, I never mind as always it is an opportunity to give love and spread joy. For me every moment filled with this expression is peace being acted out. Eventually, if many practice peace in their daily lives the world shifts to a new consciousness. My feeling is to live this new consciousness of love and truth. You cannot change others, you can only change yourself. If this inspires others to consider a happier life, then that is well and good. My intention is for myself to live the life I know is true to myself and the happiness I feel is unspeakable.

On my trip I realized I would continue writing my blog, as I felt inspired to keep communicating. I saw the natural world as intimately part of peace and peace as intimately part of the natural world. We cannot create sustainability until we find harmony within and live within the natural order. Hence, the name for my blog ‘Peace is Our True Nature came to life from this desire to connect more deeply with what is the truth of our nature. For me love, happiness, joy, unconditional love is my true nature as when I clown I feel a fulfilment I can’t describe. I feel completely happy and I have no thoughts as my heart is open and I am living fully in the moment. I have no fear only love to give, I see the blessing of my life and I am deeply grateful. I feel a strong desire to share my life with others, so that they too can feel what I feel. I fall in love with life everyday. It is real love I feel and it is total fulfilment. I don’t need a lover, a house, a job or the mod cons. I realized I am the source of love.

That is what clowning around the world taught me, to step out with courage, to expect love from the world, to see them as my family and simply give without expectation. For me, this is what it means to ‘be the change I wish the world to see’. Gandhi was right.

When you change, the world changes. World peace is a given. When you give peace you will receive it.

I encourage everyone to make a small change that is peaceful at least once a day. Perhaps it is just smiling at someone, or saying ‘how is your day’, asking someone about their life or recognizing what they do in a positive way. All these little acts of kindness do create real change, they are not meaningless. They actually change you and that is the wonder of peace, it is a work in progress, but you are the master peace. When you truly see that, the new world will emerge far beyond what you could ever imagine. We just have to commit to change and be the gift we truly are.

Peace to you. You are peace.

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Mohandas Gandhi

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

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