When I was a little girl, we lived out in the country on a dead end lane lined with gnarled old locust trees and a sprawling corn field. No one ever came down our lane unless they lived there or were visiting, and we only used the side door in the cinderblock breezeway to go in and out of our house. So when the front doorbell rang, we always knew it was a stranger. We'd move plants and big ceramic animals out of the way to get to the seldom-used front door, and I was always excited to see who it could be.
One day when we opened that front door, a lady was there with a box of clown bells. She had them sitting in little cardboard cubicles on our front step and she cheerily prattled on to my father about how she was selling the bells for some charity or another. I stood behind my tall, imposing father and peered around him into the box of clown bells. My father said, "Sure, I'll buy one from you." He turned around and told me I could choose a bell. I stepped forward and looked into the box. It was full of ceramic clowns. I wasn't into clowns; I was into horses and dogs and cats. I looked very carefully, but there were no horse bells, dog bells or cat bells... just ugly clowns. I gingerly pulled one out of the box and held it up. I gave it a little jingle. My Dad smiled, paid the lady $5.00, and I was the not-so-proud owner of a really ugly clown bell.
I took the bell inside to my room and set it on the dresser with my ceramic dogs, cats, and horses. The poor ugly thing looked so out of place; the frowning, sad-looking clown with its oversized baggy green pants piled around its legs and feet like Shar-pei skin had his hand outstretched, palm up, as if he were asking for a dollar. He was kind of creepy. I hid him behind a Quarter horse and went to play.
Ten years later when I moved out, all of my ceramics went with me, including the bell. When I got married the ugly clown stood with my cats, dogs and horses along with plates and cups in a big china cabinet in the kitchen. The bell was carefully wrapped and packed along with my other things whenever we moved, back and forth across the United States, time after time. My ceramic dogs' legs broke off; my ceramic cats' ears chipped. But the clown bell travelled without harm over and over again. And every time, I'd unpack it and stick it on the shelf behind the horses until we moved again.
The other day I was going through boxes and found a towel bunched up in the corner of a box full of random stuff. I unrolled the towel and... you guessed it... the ugly clown bell appeared. And I thought, "I have never liked this clown bell, not from day one. It is so ugly. I always hide it behind other stuff. Why the heck have I been carrying it around for 35 years??" And I stuck it in the Goodwill box.
Today marks the first ugly-clown-bell-free day of my life since I was 7 or 8 years old. It's gone! It seems like such a silly little thing with a big story, but really, it's just symbolic of my finally being able to sort through what is important and what is not, and let go of the ridiculous stuff. I still have the one good thing about the whole bell experience, and that is the memory of my Dad letting me pick out a bell for a good cause. That's the only thing I want to have... not the bell I never even liked.
What's the ugly clown bell in YOUR life? It could be a thing you hang onto or a thought or belief you have carried for decades that does you absolutely no good. Is there something you need to be free of? Shackles can be broken one small chip at a time. You never know which little breakthrough will be the one that cracks through and sets you free. Keep chipping away.
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