The Story of a Sad Clown [Poem]

Listen to the sad clown’s story,
understand the sad clown’s state,
see through the sad clown’s glory,
and accept the sad clown’s fate.

Listen to the story of the sad clown.

“I am Pagliacci,” he says,
“I am the light outside and the darkness inside.”
He is the one who entertains, jokes,
and puts laughter into peoples heart.
The joy he brings to everyone around him,
though he doesn’t keep any to himself

On stage, he has the breath of a lion,
but behind the scenes,
there is no make-believe.
No Barnum, no Bailey.
His breath; shallow like fight or flight,
with a heart beating too fast for its own good.

He looks, he seems, he appears,
yet he is not.
He makes them believe that there is a well,
deep and crystal clear,
from where he pulls his strength.
That is the biggest trick he has up his sleeve.

Who is the bigger fool now?
The clown or the ones he deceives?
Oh, how oblivious they are,
and consciously so.
No one wonders, no one asks,
“Is he…?”
And why would they?
Ignorance is bliss.

The colors. The colors!
Oh, the colors he presents to the world!
Bright! Vivid! Vibrant!
But his vision, his eyes, his world,
is all but grey.
Ashen grey, dull grey, bland and bonedry.
Not even a black and white,
so he could distinguish things.
Time begins to flow faster.
One day or one week?
How fast it passes…

How did it come to pass?
When did innocent, joyous, energetic youthfulness
turn into cynicism, hatred, bitterness, and pessimism?
When did he sit next to Charon?
The isolation and detachment from a world he once knew,
cold and dreary,
self-imposed,
like a grave he dug for himself.
Unable to escape on his own.
When more was he in need of a warm and loving embrace?

This is his moment of catharsis.
The moment to let go.
It’s not his fault.
It’s not his fault.
He made his decision to pack his bags
and join the moveable circus of this world.
Is he walking towards a solution
or away from his problems?

Roaring laughter, rolling tears,
tears of joy and tears of pain.
Don’t trust the smile,
trust the eyes that betray the smile.
Applause, applause for the madness!
The spark of madness!
Without it,
he would be nothing.

It’s time for the curtain call.

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– Concerning Homesickness – Quote of The Day by Captain James King (1779)

Today’s quote comes from Captain King, who continues the narrative of the book ‘The Voyages of Captain Cook‘ with his journal entries, after the titular Captains demise in 1779. The style of writing is very much a product of its time, meaning it sounds outdated, sometimes even incomprehensible, to us.

However, what Captain King is about to describe is simply an example of homesickness. It should come to no surprise that after four years of discovering the vast Pacific Ocean in a single voyage the entire crew’s heart yearns for their beloved homeland. And sometimes all it takes to conjure up feelings of excitement, anticipation, and heartache, is a simple spoon.

“Whilst we were at dinner in this miserable hut, the guests of a people with whose existence we had before been scarcely acquainted, and at the extremity of the habitable globe, a solitary half-worn pewter spoon, whose shape was familiar to us, attracted our attention; and on examination we found it stamped on the back with the word London.

I cannot pass over this circumstance in silence, out of gratitude for the many pleasant thoughts, the anxious hopes and tender remembrances it excited in us. Those who have experienced the effects that long absence and extreme distance from their native country produce on the mind will readily conceive the pleasure such trifling incidents can give.”

It is fascinating to me what vivid memories and instances of nostalgia such “trifling incidents” our mind can create. When our senses are stimulated or activated in a specific way, they can leave us excited, or heartbroken, or hopeful, or joyful, or with an aching heart longing to return home.

It doesn’t take much for a traveler to be susceptible to moments of homesickness. We sense something that in some manner reminds us of home. It can be the smell of a dish or the scent of the landscape; the sight of a structure or a flower; or the random encounter with a person from your homeland.

It doesn’t take much to welcome the warm comfort of nostalgia. Something always manages to remind us of something from our past; our childhood, adolescence or early adulthood; and for a while, reality takes a backseat as nostalgia takes over the command. What our eyes of flesh see during those moments are blurred images, but the pictures our inner eye conjures up – pictures of a happy or maybe a tragic past – are all the clearer.

We either smile or cry with a distant look on our faces and to the confusion and sometimes embarrassment of everyone around us. It can be a cherished or a haunted moment just for us and no one else. However, it should be just that – a moment, and nothing of a permanent nature.

Ao Nang – Why Do I Keep Coming Back?

What is it about this place that makes me return again and again and again? One could easily explain my decision by stating the usual reasons such as beaches, mountains, jungles, a fascinating culture and history, a delicious cuisine and so forth. Those are the things that appear on every “must-see” and “to-do” list. However to me, that merely covers the reasons why one should come here, but it doesn’t answer the question of why one should stay here. Thailand is not the only country that ticks off all the items on this list; there are plenty of others with perhaps even more pristine beaches or higher mountains. So, what is it then? Continue reading “Ao Nang – Why Do I Keep Coming Back?”

My New Life As An Explorer: A Declaration

I had the most profound revelation during a long train ride from Goa up to Mumbai. It was late in the evening and all six berths in our section – three on each side – were already folded out and occupied by tired passengers. I, however, could not sleep as I was lying in the bottom bunk with my flashlight still on and the pages of Charles Allen’s book ‘A Mountain in Tibet’ still open. It’s a book that chronicles the exploration of the revered Mount Kailas and the discovery of the sources of the four great rivers – the Indus, the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, and the Sutlej. Every person depicted in this book had their own reasons for venturing into these uncharted and dangerous areas. It was either for the sake of spiritual enlightenment, geographical exploration, and discovery or for more selfish reasons such as fame, admiration, and recognition. Whatever it was, in the end, they all had one thing in common: they possessed the heart of an explorer. And on that fateful train ride to Mumbai, I realized that I, too, was in possession of it. Clear as day, then and there it dawned on me just as sudden, that I now had a purpose. Continue reading “My New Life As An Explorer: A Declaration”

Tales from Nepal #1: The Prayers of Kathmandu and The Veiled Mountains in the Distance

Prayer flags, much like humans, are not meant to remain still. They need to fly and flutter freely through the air and space spreading peace, compassion, and goodwill as the wind lets them dance in every direction and the colors – red, white, green, blue, yellow – fade in the sunlight. From pole to pole, house to house, the ground to the top of a stupa, I would go so far as to say that no other country is more closely associated with flags than Nepal. Continue reading “Tales from Nepal #1: The Prayers of Kathmandu and The Veiled Mountains in the Distance”

Tales from India #4: The Last Sunny Days in Goa

At last, the monsoon season was upon us as thick layers of grey clouds covered the sky and rain began to pour down relentlessly. It started of imperceptible with small showers during the evening, but it culminated in a thunderous storm, that left the entire town without electricity for the greater part of the night and the next day. It was the official announcement that “the times they are a-changin’”. Continue reading “Tales from India #4: The Last Sunny Days in Goa”

Tales from India #3: The Subtle Art of Making Chapatis

Recently, I have spent a lot of time thinking about the big question of what art is. Was there a universal answer to this question? Was there one undeniable truth? Some say that art is not about truth, it’s about expression and beauty. To others, it’s a “source of calm in a chaotic world“. There is no shortage of elaborate opinion pieces written by highly educated people. However, many seem to come to the same conclusion that art should evoke an emotional response.  Continue reading “Tales from India #3: The Subtle Art of Making Chapatis”