"'Beware the smile that wears its face too easily' is a quote of mine that I used as part of an article I wrote many years ago.
In my lifetime I have known far too many sad clowns not to know that behind some smiles lay a considerable degree of hurt of which the jokey person does not choose to speak of or cannot find either courage or words to express. Laughter has often been known to mask anxiety and even suppress sadness when the intention is to hide the true emotion. I think about some overweight people who compensate by their excessive 'jolliness' which masks their own sadness and leads others to think that they are happy with their lot in life. I also think of people whom many might consider happiness to be their constant companion instead of the shadow of depression and despair that often secretly remains close by; only to emerge in the privacy of their lonely hours.
Way back in the 60's in a Canadian hotel where I worked, my closest work mate was an older man called Ronnie. My work pal was forever laughing and making light of all matters that would get most people down. Often, I envied his easy go attitude and seeming happiness with life. One day he stopped working at the hotel and I later learned from the son of the hotel owner that his life had been far from carefree for many years now. Ronnie had been divorced three times and had been heavily stung with maintenance payments on each occasion and needed to work three jobs in order to meet his financial commitments. Heavily indebted since his second divorce, he drank copiously and gambled on the horses most days he could raise the betting stake. The word was that he owed more than he could ever hope to pay back. The children to his first marriage had not spoken to him since parental separation over twenty years earlier and the son to his second union was serving a prison sentence for fraud in Winnipeg, the capital city in the province of Manitoba. To add to his burden, his current partner whom he loved and had hoped to one day wed had just been diagnosed with a serious illness and with the prospect of paying out for large medical bills, Ronnie definitely had little to smile about.
It is easy to understand that had he not looked life in the face and outwardly laughed at his daily challenge, he would have had little option but to break down and cry uncontrollably. I know that there are many Ronnies in the world today who lean on lamp posts, not to make you laugh, but to prevent themselves falling to the ground and collapsing in a state of terminal resignation.
Ronnie is but one of many folk I have personally known who smiled outwardly for the pleasure of others while smarting inwardly themselves. So the next time you come across one of society's laughing clowns, remember that though the face may smile, the body may hurt as it secretes its pain from public gaze." William Forde: January 4th, 2016.