Almost at the end of my bike trip for this year, I arrived Monte San Guisto, the smiling city in the east of Italy and spent a memorable week there!
I have never been to a festival like Clown&Clown before, it did consist of fantastic programs with a variety of clown and artist performances, but I enjoyed the most was the friendliness and happiness in the village Monte San Giusto. I have experienced numerous times unconditional giving from the villagers which made me feel I did not deserved such love and care. What I can do is to be grateful and contribute as much as I could to ensure the artists and volunteers were healthy and in a good shape by performing massage; as well as being a handyman to run errands.
I arrived on a Saturday, my good friend Alfonso insisted to pick me up on the road. Thanks to the driver Pepe who volunteered as a driver during the festival. Alfonso told me that I could not stop the generosity of the people living in Monte San Giusto, last year he stayed here for 3 months because of a surgery and everyone in the village took care of him like a family! That’s the reason he felt so connected with this village and the festival.
We tried to help a bit decorations but most of them were already done. I could see the whole village celebrated and shared the joy of the festival. It was the 11th year of Clown&Clown, which was created by Mabo Band, 3 creative musicians/clowns who dreamt about organizing such a festival to gather interesting artists to showcase their talents, and spreading the idea of happiness.
The next day was the opening, in which the little streets were full of parades and clown performances. At night there was a tradition to light up the clown nose of the church tower, everyone who witnessed that moment were filled with laughter and happiness in their face and within! I already knew that I would spend an unforgettable week here.
Then the following 3 days they organized a clown performance competition called Clown Factor, each night 3 of the contestants showcased their talents and tried their best to earn our applause! I really respect every single one of them, who practice for a long time to obtain those skills, no matter it is juggling, acrobatics, swinging with a peace of cloth doing difficult postures, stand-up comedy….all require patience and consistent training. I stayed with all the contestants in a big house, it was like a reality show, I saw them practicing every morning to ensure their shows went well!
Since they did not arrange a particular task for me to do, I offered massages to the staff and artists. And I was the only Asian in the house, the organizers thought it would be funny to make a little video of me speaking Chinese and play it before the show at nights. They named it “Sean’s Corner”. It was a bit ridiculous because of my camera shy, I hope the audiences enjoyed that. At the third night I even jumped to the stage and sang a song in Cantonese!
It was my first time to come across the term “Clown Doctor”, they undergo a special training about basic psychology and communication skills, that equip them to serve in hospitals, schools with special-need kids, and elderly homes. I joined one of their visit to an elderly home on Thursday, it was eye opening to see a group of clowns entertaining the old people, dancing and singing with them, to bring a little bit happiness to their lives. Of course it is nice to create a good atmosphere, but I think it is also important to spend one to one moments with the elderly, to talk with them for a while. Unfortunately I cannot speak their dialects, not even Italian, but I experience sometimes action really bigger than words. Just a hug or hold their hands mean a lot to them!
The weekend was the highlight of the festival, not to mention about all the amazing artists they invited to perform, there were 3 programs that melted my heart: Hugs of Colors; Holi and Floating Balloons.
On Saturday morning, many kids and teenagers visited the festival for “Hugs of Colors”. Volunteers prepared plates of watercolor for people to put their hands on and hug everyone, friends and strangers, there is no difference. It symbolized Love and Acceptance are universal, just a hug can break all the barriers of races, religions or sexual orientations. Of course we were all hug and painted into different colors, fascinating!
It was not necessary to change our clothes as there was even a crazier event happening in the same evening! Have you heard about the Holi festival in India? People throw color powders on each other representing a blessing towards each other. I joined once in India right after my eye operation, luckily I covered my eye well, or it would be filled with pink or blue.
This photo can really show how amazing to be inside the crowd!
I did not have enough rest as there was the finale on Sunday. After a loud rock concert, the huge crowd in the main square were given balloons and in a sudden a party kicked off. Gigantic balloons dropped from the sky, everyone was enjoying that moment, the moment that we are alive, that we are able to love, to smile, to connect with people around the world.
Happiness is a choice. No matter what is going on in our lives, we have the ability to choose to mourn or to worry or to look pass it with a smile. Remember that our mental states affect our physical health, to maintain a positive mindset can definitely give you a disease-free body. Maybe you are having a harsh time, try to find the meaning of all these sufferings, and you will eventually trace the purpose of your lives.
Although Clown&Clown festival seems like a happiness injection, it sincerely taught me how to make a better choice to focus on my feelings, and to spread the seeds of happiness to the people I come across.
Make a smart choice to become the happiness version of you.
More importantly, find the reason to be happy!!
Miss you my friends Alfonso and Liu!!