What RED NOSES mean to me ...

Photo: Nina Goldnagl

Do you know that feeling when the person you love most asks you: “Tell me, what is it exactly, that you love about me?” Or do you remember the feeling when you were five years old and someone asked you what you wanted for Christmas? What does it feel like today when you walk into a supermarket hungry and the woman at the meat counter asks you “Hello, what can I get for you...?”

“Would you like to write a few words about what Red Noses mean to you?” This is what the friendliest editorial team in the world asked me a few days ago. And, snap, there it was, that old familiar feeling. A thousand words want to tumble out from inside me. A thousand options wrestle in my head, vying to be the most important. A thousand memories bubble up, one more tempting and valuable than the next.

What Red Noses mean to me? It’s actually quite simple: everything. Really everything. “Red Noses was my school of life”, I often say when I am asked how I managed not to collapse under the weight of my fate – the death of my family in 2008. And I mean it seriously. What did Red Noses teach me? Not how to be funny all the time. Also not to put on a red nose and put on a show for the world. They didn’t teach me to fail or to fall. I could do that before, everyone can do that all by themself.

What I learned from Red Noses sounds simple and is, for me, the biggest present, the greatest art. I learned to be a clown. Not to play the clown – to be a clown. With every day in this profession, with every workshop, every exercise, I grew deeper and deeper into the soul of this archetypical, good-natured, ever awe-inspired being. And I understood better and better what it really means to be a clown and what so powerfully enchants those of us who connect with the soul of the clown.

What is the key to the clown’s power to enchant? Today, I have a clear answer to this question. The clown knows that he does not have the right to anything, to anything at all. He does not expect to receive anything, to keep anything, or to be lucky just because he was nice and good. The essence of the clown is to accept the uncertainty of the world as a matter of course. The clown does not count on anything, not even on justice (whatever that is). This all doesn’t make the clown sad. Just the opposite: it sets him free. Because while we are still busy licking our wounds and getting upset and complaining vociferously, the clown has long since collected his things, brushed off his clothes and set off looking for the joy of the moment all over again. If you don’t expect anything, you don’t have to struggle. And that is the special source of happiness for the clown. For him, that goes without saying. We can be happy if we can learn a little from him.

I feel blessed by life because I had the opportunity to learn in time through the Red Noses, that what we expect of life can never be absolute. This is the only way I can let go of my husband and my children without being angry at life. This is the only way I can start a new life without hardening. More than anything else, that is what Red Noses mean to me.

Barbara Pachl-Eberhart




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