In addition to being a psychiatrist, I’m also a humanitarian clown. For the last 30 years, I have traveled the world with my friend and holy brother, Patch Adams MD, perhaps the world’s most recognized humanitarian clown. Together, and with clowns from all over the world. I have gone to war zones, refugee camps, disaster areas, hospitals, mental institutions, and prisons.
Now, in the midst of this global Corona virus pandemic my clown spirit emerged as The Corona Man. Still wearing my customary pink tutu but without the Flamingo headdress, I wore instead a hard-hat that held 2 cans of Corona Beer, a mask, gloves, and of course the red nose. The Corona Man slowly unrolls toilet paper like a biblical scroll, on which is written some cute doggerel verse about getting through these hard times.
I clown because it lightens my spirit; it’s the best way I know to get out of my head and connect with people from an open-hearted place. It is that unfettered, spontaneous part of myself that I like best, but often tend to guard against.
The Clown/Fool/Jester has been a presence in every culture known to humankind; they are a universal character in the unconscious mind. They exist to help us lighten the mood, laugh at ourselves, make our secrets public (the Jester can get away with announcing that the Emperor isn’t wearing clothes); they defuse anxiety, and encourage us to see the world from another perspective.
In many cultures the clown is also sacred. In my work with Native Americans the clown is an integral presence in the most sacred ceremonies. They are beings who can reveal hidden landscapes, and because of this visionary capacity they have a direct line to the Creator’s ear. The Clown connects heaven and earth,
Apache legend tells us that when the Great Spirit created human beings he gave them the ability to see, run and talk… but was not satisfied until he gave them the ability to laugh, only then was pleased and said now you are fit to live. Humor is an expression of the life force; it’s what helps us through even the darkest times and reminds us of our shared humanity.
P.S. If you want to watch my toilet paper unroll, scroll down on my Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/carlhammerschlag
For those of you who find my cavalier use of toilet paper objectionable, let me assure you me that I actually recycle these scrolls… and get to smile again when I greet the day.