Monday, July 25, 2016

Contemplating a Dream

I walked up to the front desk area.  Being outdoors, this consisted of a square bridge table, a small cash box, some type of notebook and a guy sitting to the right side on an outdoor beach chair.  As I walked up to the table, I heard behind me some kids.

“He’s 79 years old,” the first child said. 

“No, he’s not,” argued a second child. 

“I am 89,” said a deeper, older sounding voice. 

I turned around to see a woman helping to guide an older man, still standing tall, with large features, who appeared to be blind.  The woman guided the man to a seat a little ways off from where I was.  I turned backed to the man by the table.  I must have had an inquisitive look, as he started, “Every year, that family works very hard.  They pack up what little they have and come here for one week.  They always stay in the In-Out section.” 

I noticed that tears started to well up in his eyes.  “Yes, I have gotten to know them quite well over the years.  Usually there are three out of four that come to stay and always in the same spot.  Not only is he blind, but a number of years ago, the daughter was badly hurt traveling back to their home in Glen Rock…”

“Did you say Glen Rock?”  I asked.

The lady had just walked up and said, “Yes, Glen Rock.”

“As in Glen Rock, New Jersey?” I asked.  That was the town I grew up in.  I am not sure she heard as she began to talk.  I was now curious if I knew them or they of us, even though I last lived there 30 years ago.  Then my alarm woke me up…

As I sat in my kitchen thinking about this dream, there are definitely parts of the dream that are reflection of my life.  Debbie and I have family that are less independent then they used to be and do need help.  And, yes, I grew up in a little town called Glen Rock.  I am left, however, to once again wonder if our dreams are reflections of what we live or, at times, trying to subconsciously tell us something.

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Beginning

If I were to have do-over – would I do things differently?
If I had another chance – would I right the wrongs I brought on?
If I could hit undo – would I foolishly follow the same steps?
If I had my life to live over – would I live it more fully?
If I could revisit my choices – would I choose differently?
If I had the chance to say something when I did not – would I say the words I should have said?
If I knew I would die tomorrow – would I do something meaningful today?
If I knew of an impending devastation – would I spend more time with the ones that I love?
If I had hurt someone with my words or action – would I change how I treat others?
If I could start today again – would I change my morning routing?
If I took stock of my life – would I be honest with myself?
If I took the time to listen – would I hear others more clearly?
If I stopped to look about me – would I enjoy the things I missed before?
If I had spent more time on education – would I have learnt the lessons well?
If I could apologize for when I did not – would I have helped a situation for the better?
If I said thank you more often – would I feel more connected?
If I could provide positive praise – would I do what I could to help others?
If I showed more compassion – would I be closer to those around ne?
If I were to begin life anew – would I end up the same?
If I spent my time more wisely – would I give more of myself?
If I showed more respect for others – would I care more about other’s feelings?
If I acted more humbly – would I push less people away?
If I were to have a second chance – would I make the necessary changes?

If I were born this morning – would I treat life as a new beginning?

Monday, July 11, 2016

Notes from the Being a Clown Journal

“Hey, Clownie, over here,” an excited youth yelled out.

“Hey, who you calling Clownie?” I asked.

“You, Clownie!”

And there were smiles all around.


“Happy 4th,” I yelled out. 

An elderly gentleman reached his hand out.  “A happy after 84 years, as well,” he said as he excited shook hands with me.


Every 4th of July, I apply the face paints, don the clothing and derby that transforms me from normal human Wayne to the clown G-Clef.  For a few hours, I have the privilege of bringing smiles to children, both young and old, that line the streets for the annual Independence Day Parade in Ridgewood, NJ.  Walking up to a young child and watching their grin appear from the excitement of a clown walking over to them for a few seconds, to high five, or take a picture, brings a wonderful feeling to the child and to me.  Sometimes, you see a teenager, or a young adult, begin to grin, and then look sheepish, as if they have outgrown the “clown thing.”  But, when you go up to them and “call them out,” their hand jumps to the high-five ready position and the big smile appears.


“Can you take a picture with her?” someone asks with a smirk.

“I would be happy to,” and as I looked over I recognize the pasty looking facial tones, the beads of sweat starting to collect above the brow and ask, “How about I stand behind you like I am photo-bombing.”

“That’s OK, as long as I cannot see you.”  A very honest answer.


“High Five?” I asked.

“I am usually afraid of clowns, but you look OK,” the lady responded as she prepared to high five.


I do not recall if I was ever afraid of clowns.  I had more problems with costumed characters, and only one I can remember vividly.  We were in, I think, Atlantic City, walking on the boardwalk.  Chances are this was the latter half of the 60’s, in a time where “AC” still had some life before the decline into the 70’s.  We were walking on the boardwalk and there he was…Mister Peanuts.  Like some cartoon character, my hair stood straight up.  My brother Jeff seized the opportunity and went up to Mr. P. to say hello, while I cowered behind my parents (Brian was asleep in the stroller).  “Jeff can go up to Mister Peanuts, why can’t you?” my mom asked.  My dad?  He was too busy laughing to try to get me over there.  When I walk up to a kid and they start to cry…I understand; I am their Mister Peanuts.

Is being a clown easy?  It takes time to prepare and then to participate.  I could walk and wave, like a live float.  I add the extra effort of being interactive with the crowd, which takes attention and focus.  I work hard not to miss children on the side of the road I am walking.  Wherever the Miles of Smiles clowns start at the beginning of the parade, by the end of the parade, I am one of the last people to finish.  In fact, this was the first year I past the grandstand where the “fans” have not already left (starting in an earlier slot helped).  While the first year, I have to confess, I did this as a bit of a goof, I have come to look forward this parade.  There is no better feeling than to bring a smile to someone’s face.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

First Love Leaves You

The tears.  The crying.  The screaming.  We have all been there, when our first love leaves us.  You cultivate that intimate relationship, spending all of that valuable time together, learning about each other, feeling like they have become an extension of you.  Then, one day, gone…your first love leaves you.

Poor Gab.  She has spent those first few days putting on a brave face, smiling like nothing was happening; when we all knew she was blubbering inside.  We tried preparing for this possibility, but being young and somewhat inexperienced in this matter, she poo-poo’d us.  Even Bec was shocked at the reaction.  The public display of tears running down her face became inevitable. 

“Can’t you see that she is crying?” Debbie said to the man that was talking to them.

He kept on talking.

“Maybe he has seen this before and just wanted to get through it,” I responded when I heard the story.

“Gab, there will always be another…” I said hoping to help.

Gab snapped back, “…there can be no replacement for Hank!”

Hank was only a few years younger than Gab, but he played an important part in her life and was truly one of the family.  Then, Gab took off for the night and I hoped that when she returned she would feel better.

The next day, my happy little girl was back.  Many of us have that first love…some never outgrow it and are fascinated their entire lives by this small moment in our lives.  We are sad, and then move on.  There is nothing like one’s first car.  The adventures that we have, the time we spend driving and a first touch of our independence.  My car was a hand me down red Buick Century - my wheels, it took me to and from school, to my first job, on many adventures.  We all remember our first.  What was yours?