Tears of a Clown

Robin Williams
The world lost one of its greatest comedians when Robin Williams lost his battle with depression today. My heart hurt when I heard the news, and I thought back to a song that touched my heart back in 1967. “Tears of a Clown” was a number one hit in both the US and England. I could relate to the lyrics and sang it at least a thousand times while in high school. I still find myself singing it when the world gets me down.

In case you aren’t familiar with the song, here are the lyrics written by Smokey Robinson to go with music scored by Stevie Wonder.

“Now if there’s a smile on my face
It’s only there trying to fool the public
But when it comes down to fooling you
Now honey that’s quite a different subject
But don’t let my glad expression
Give you the wrong impression
Really I’m sad, oh I’m sadder than sad
You’re gone and I’m hurtin’ so bad
Like a clown I pretend to be glad

Now there’s some sad things known to man
But ain’t too much sadder than
The tears of a clown, when there’s no one around
Uh hum, oh yeah baby

Now if I appear to be carefree
It’s only to camouflage my sadness
And honey to shield my pride I try
To cover this hurt with a show of gladness
But don’t let my show convince you
That I’ve been happy since you
Decided to go, oh I need you so
I’m hurt and I want you to know
But for others I put on a show, ooh yeah

{repeat CHORUS}

Just like Pagliacci did
I try to keep my surface hid
Smiling in the public eye
But in my lonely room I cry
The tears of a clown
When there’s no one around, oh yeah, baby baby
Now if there’s a smile on my face
Don’t let my glad expression
Give you the wrong impression
Don’t let this smile I wear
Make you think that I don’t care
When really I’m sad…I’m hurting so bad…”

Like Pagliacci, the cheers of the world encourage me to hide my hurt and forget my pain. I didn’t know Robin Williams personally, but I spent countless hours laughing with him. The mention of his name made me grin, and his movies made me laugh out loud each time I watched them. I hope I will continue to enjoy his incredible work, but I can’t help but cry tonight as I think of the pain he endured while keeping us laughing.

It’s not easy to keep the world happy, especially when your heart is broken. We all pretend to be glad when we are sad at some point in our lives, but for some it is a never-ending battle. I spent far too much of my life putting on a happy face and ended up missing a great deal because of it. I’m learning it’s best to be real and let people see my tears. When I do, I find that hurt is part of everyone’s journey. I’m learning to cry out to and with others, and it’s changing my heart.

There is truly nothing sadder than the tears of a clown, especially when those tears flood the soul and stop the heart. I have known deep sadness in my life, and I’ve considered death as an escape twice. I thank God that I did not end up drowning in my sorrow either time. I’m learning to let others know when I’m hurting or tired or need a hand. Having loving friends and family who hear my heart and love me as I am makes all the difference. I wish that were true for all who face deep sadness or battle depression. I pray I will look more deeply into the hearts of those I love and look more closely into their eyes to see if there is a tear hiding behind their smile.

Author: Gigi

I taught middle school for 33 years and retired in 2007. I'm enjoying my journey and loving the time I have with my three granddaughters who call me "Gigi." I want to share my journey with them and with anyone else interested in sharing the lessons God has for me on this amazing journey.

4 thoughts on “Tears of a Clown”

  1. I was searching for the writer of the song, ‘Tears of a clown’ to comment of the passing (breaks my heart to even type it) Robin Williams, when I came across your blog. Thank you for expressing what I am feeling so well.

  2. I was glad to find your blog. I get it. I too am a clown and LOVED Robin Williams. I make people laugh and feel sorry for myself at times because … whatever… It seems there is always something that consistently tries to provoke me to sadness. but when I remember HIM and obey the directive of Jesus who said, “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world,” the doldrums pass. I simply can’t allow myself to focus on anything except to fix my mind on Him & His Goodness. Only God is Good. I only “make it” through life because I know Him, am known of Him & do consistently choose to set my affections on things above not on things of this earth always remembering that our lives are hid with Christ in God. Fixing my gaze on Him brings such comfort to my soul which makes me smile a smile from deep within which lifts the weight of sorrow off my heart making room for the oil of gladness. I too have suffered from depression. It has been a pall over my life ever since I can remember. I contemplated suicide as a 4 year old back in the 50’s & many times after that, BUT GOD. Refocusing on Him and serving others, as He taught us to do, gets the focus off of me and all the bummer things that go on in the world which brings me back into Ahhh….balance. Remembering the reason I have remained on this earth is to live out His Will for me and for others stabilizes my mind. The only way many of us keep ourselves from falling apart is to remember that Jesus is our Sabbath. He is our rest. What keeps me keepin on is to remembering this Word from Paul in Philippians 4:8-9. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” We labor to enter into His Rest. To know Him in His Resurrection is to know Him in His suffering as well. A servant is no greater than his master. As He is so are we in this world and It’s ALL worth it!!

    1. Thank you so very much for sharing your heart with me. I needed this today. I love the way God uses all things to bring me to place of peace. He is the God of peace, and to know Him is to know His suffering. God bless you and thanks again for letting me hear your heart. It is a beautiful blessing to know that others share our journey and have an understanding of our hearts even if we have never met. I will keep Philippians 4:8-9 near my heart today. It is a favorite that I sometimes forget. I needed its nudge this morning.

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