The Sad Clown

Have you ever noticed that for, almost, everyone that you meet when you enquire as to how they are doing…they will say ‘doing fine’ or ‘doing good’ or ‘I am well’…and you?  And, of course, you will reply, ‘fine, thank you.’

However, the reality of daily living is much more complex than, ‘doing fine.’

Everyone that you meet is dealing with challenges that you know nothing about.

Many have health issues that virtually consume their nonproductive time and they wonder and worry if they will be around for their kids and their husband or wife or partner and and they live in a reality that is not understood by most.

Others are experiencing domestic abuse, either verbal or physical or both.  They are mired in dysfunctional relationships that cloud their mind and warp their relationships.  They want to reach out…for help…but are afraid to do so.

Many, among us, deal with mental and emotional challenges, and are reluctant to admit their need for assistance and understanding…due to a false stigma that has been placed on such issues.

Often, middle age people are caring for their aging parents, many times with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease…and the stress on the caregiver has been know to take their life long before the one being cared for.

‘One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives.  Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.’  WHO

As a manager of a large Housekeeping Department for over 25 years I encountered many individuals…who simply needed someone to talk to…and someone to listen.


All of the Progressive Discipline Charts in the world will not make up for a compassionate supervisor and manager and administrator.

As a manager, I was often criticized for being to easy on a ‘rule breaker’, by the ‘perceived’ guilty party’s peers, only later to discover, when the accusers became guilty of a rule infraction…they pled for mercy and understanding for their temporary oversight.


We live in a world where the majority of us travel through throngs of our fellow human travelers…living in our own head.

As I walk the Campus…two out of three people that I meet are either looking at their smart phones and/or have ear buds in their ears.


We retreat behind our locked doors to the comfort of our televisions and…do not know our neighbors name.

It is a mystery…to us… why the races do not like each other.

We do not know each other!

We hear of the devastation of another shooting…every few days…the last was in Benton, Kentucky.

For several years in the latter 1980’s and early 1990’s it was a tradition of ours to join my stepfather, Earl, and my mom, Neva June, and travel to Benton, Kentucky a few days after Christmas and have lunch in a lovely and locally owned restaurant in little town.  They had wonderful pie.

An adolescent opened fire on his classmates and killed two and wounded several more.

The photos of the two murdered…children….

We must return to communicating with each other.

We must return to listening to each other.

We must stop looking at each other through stereotypical and shaded eyes.

When we are not ‘fine’ or ‘good’ or ‘well’…we must reach out for help.

It is amazing how much we are alike and how similar our trials and tribulations are when we open up to each other and share our lives with our brothers and sisters in our human family.

We were friends with, Jo Ann and Peter, for ten years, and we often commented to each other how similar our thinking and view of the world and the University were and how much alike our challenges of life were.

Jo Ann was Chancellor of Southern Illinois University and Peter is a renowned history professor who has spoken at Oxford University in the United Kingdom, as has Jo Ann.

If we had let our ‘place bound fears’ or our stereotypes of academia and professors chain us to our mythology and bias…we would have missed out on one of the most enriching friendships that we have experienced.

I was the manager of the custodial organization, at SIU, during my career.   In those wonderful years I had many Professorial Friends…and some to this day.

I told my good friend, Elizabeth, that Chancellors and Presidents…were simply people…and that they responded to kindness and frankness…and all the human intricacies of communication.

Elizabeth, has taken some of my meager advice, and has become a leader at the University…and I could not be prouder of her.


We had some appliances installed recently and the lead Delivery person was an African American.  He was not only a delightful person…but he and I had a discussion on the African American experience and the White American Experience.

He and I agreed that our nation is, currently, going in the wrong direction.

The more that we associate with others…the richer our life experience will become.


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