Just recently I read an article by Elizabeth Lesser entitled “Bozos on the Bus”. It introduces a clown-activist called Wavy Gravy. He’s a social activist, a major “fun-d” raiser for good causes, a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavour, an unofficial hospital chaplain, and the founder of a children’s camp for inner city kids. Every four years he campaigns as a candidate for president of the United States, under the pseudonym of Nobody, making speeches all over the country, with slogans like “Nobody for President,” “Nobody’s Perfect,” and “Nobody Should Have That Much Power.” Rather apt considering the present USA election campaign! And who knows he may even win this time.
But his favourite saying refers to “bozos on the bus” believing just that – we are all bozos on the bus, contrary to the self-assured image we work so hard to present to each other on a daily basis. He considers us all to be half-baked experiments-mistake-prone beings, born without an instruction book into a complex world. None of us are models of perfect behaviour. We have all betrayed and been betrayed; we’ve been known to be egotistical, unreliable, lethargic, and stingy; and each one of us has, at times, awakened in the middle of the night worrying about everything from money to kids to terrorism to wrinkled skin and receding hairlines. In other words, we’re all bozos on the bus.
So if we are all bozos what will it take for us to put down the burden of pretence, that we are all ‘sorted and in control’, and get on with being bozos. How do we overcome our embarrassment and resistance to just being who we are. It is so much more effective to work on our imperfections with an open and forgiving heart. Imagine how freeing it would be to take a more compassionate, kind, accepting and forgiving approach to each other – not as a way to deny our defects -but as a way of welcoming them as part of just being human and exploring how we can grow and develop from the place we are at. We all hurt at times, we can all be afraid; it’s when we feel the constant pressure of shame, about our failings, about not being good enough or smart enough, that shame turns into hurt and suffering. This leads to unhappiness and more suffering.
If however, we start to realise and accept we are all bozos on this bus of life, we can connect with our fellow humans to deliver the most fabulous results. We realise we all belong.
Elizabeth Lesser puts this so brilliantly when she says: It is wonderful to take your place on the bus with the other bozos. It may be the first step to enlightenment to understand with all of your brain cells that the other bus – that sleek bus with the cool people who know where they are going – is also filled with bozos – bozos in drag; bozos with a secret. When we see clearly that every single human being, regardless of fame or fortune or age or brains or beauty, shares the same ordinary foibles, a strange thing happens. We begin to cheer up, to loosen up, and we become as buoyant as those people we imagined on the other bus. As we rumble along the potholed road, lost as ever, through the valleys and over the hills, we find ourselves among friends. We sit back, and enjoy the ride.
Elizabeth Lesser has written a book called Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow where you can find out more on this topic.
Judith Underhill, Learning Director, Coaching & Personal Development, Minerva Engagement is fully accredited by the Association of Professional Coaches and Supervisors.