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In 2016 I went to École de Clown et Comédie Francine Côté where I learnt all about the basics of clown. It was aptly called Clown 1 and it was a challenge, I sucked real bad at times, it ignited something in me I wasn’t entirely sure existed before, and I got a heck of a lot better at understanding French! We did this exercise called “The Audition.” You entered, ran around in a big circle and showed the public your joy, with every bang of Francine’s drum you would jump and say “yipee!” then after two bangs you would stop, complete your list of “habits” that your clown has to do to make a connection with the public - mine looked like clin d'œil (wink), bisous (kiss), bisous and fix your boobs (Francais translation unknown haha) - then Francine would ask you questions. The key point here for your clown’s audition is that you desperately want this job. So, naturally, you were only allowed to say “yes” or “oui” and complete all of the tasks Francine asked of you to the best of your ability. You see the clown will always say yes because it’s a naive little shit. It doesn’t understand no. The clown thinks “if I do my best everything will be okay!”

During “The Audition” I hated saying yes in English with my Kiwi accent. I thought it sounded disgusting. Everyone else was saying “oui oui” or something similar to “way” which is a colloquial Quebec way of saying yes. It sounded so cool. I sounded so uncool.

When it was exactly I don’t know. I would like to think it was overlooking a beautiful sunset in Wellington after doing 5 hot yoga classes in a row and feeling as enlightened as shit, but I would assume it was while lying in bed one day eating a block of Whittaker’s creamy milk chocolate contemplating whether to get out and fearing the outside windy world. But a few years ago I made a conscious decision to start always saying yes. I set some boundaries, obviously if something was going to be unsafe then saying no was allowed. If I really, really didn’t want to do something then saying no was allowed. And when I said no, it would always mean no. Because that’s what no means, yeah? The rule was that I wasn’t allowed to say no to something if it was actually my social anxiety or depression saying no.

It sounds so naff. This is one hundred percent legit though. I consciously decided one day to say yes more. I didn’t want to be a no person. I wanted to be a yes person. Always up for anything and willing to give anything a go.

I’ve noticed in a lot of my circus friends that that’s exactly what they do. They don’t approach a situation with an umbrella of no over their heads. They have an idea and they go for it. Let’s juggle one knife, one toy cat and one flaming torch on this giant pole. YES. Let’s create a new duo act with rola bolas and skipping ropes. YES. Let’s run halfway across the world to do street shows at a festival. YES. With circus it’s just a shit tonne of yes over here and hardly any no’s.

By saying yes I found circus. I have found these wonderful people who continue to inspire and motivate me and above all else, they believe in me.

Because they say yes.

By saying yes I also have some freaking crazy stories now… But I’ll save those for another post!

“There is freedom waiting for you,

On the breezes of the sky,

And you ask, “What if I fall?”

Oh, but my darling,

What if you fly?”

- by Erin Hanson

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