What was that all about?

June 16, 2015

It occurred to me after I posted yesterday’s blog about the Calvin and Hobbs story that I found to be so moving that many of the people who follow this blog may not even know what the heck this Calvin and Hobbs is  that I was referring to in the post. Here’s the WikiPedia post to explain – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvin_and_Hobbes.It was the most popular cartoon for years in the U.S. I’m not sure how far it made it outside the U.S.

On the surface it was a humorous cartoon about the adventures of a young boy (Calvin) and his imaginary friend Hobbs, who was, in fact a stuffed tiger toy, much like a Teddy Bear. In practice it was a lesson in life as seen through the eyes of innocence, wonder and imagination of youth.  Calvin represented life before it is forced to acquiesce to the demands of growing up. He and Hobbs had great adventures, discovered great truths and generally had fun withouplayingt fear in a world bereft of the rules and cautions of adulthood. It was the world seen through the eyes of someone who had not yet been subjected to the regimentation of schools and the oppressive expectations of others. Though Hobbs often cautioned Calvin about trying some of the things that they did, he always went along for the ride. While it lasted it was one of the most enjoyable comic strips around. But it, like the youth of all of us, had to end.

The story that was at the end of the link in my post yesterday (here it is again, in case yo missed it)  was someone’s very well written attempt to pick up the story of Calvin and Hobbs years later; at the end of Calvin’s life. Of course old and youngHobbs, like all memories never aged, so he was still the playful, fuzzy Tiger that he had always been. I think we all have some “Hobbs” memories somewhere in the back of our minds. Maybe it doesn’t involve a stuffed animal or even an imaginary friend; perhaps it was a best friend from your very early days as a child. It’s actually kind of sad if you meet those people today, because something happened to them – they got old. But the ones that live only in your memories will never age. As the song says they will be forever young and that great adventure that you sneaked off to with them will live forever in your mind.

Do you ever let your mind wander back to the days of your youth? It is not an easy thing to do, since we have been so well conditioned by society to put those things behind us and “act like adults.” I’ve written here before that I think it is funny facesomehow more health for us all to be able to drop the shields and pretenses of our adult demeanor and just be silly like a child, if only with ourselves. I do that by making a funny face in the shaving mirror each morning. Shaving each day is such an adult thing, but sticking out my lounge or making a funny face gives me that tiny instant of childhood release that seems to make a better start to each day. Try it some time.


Reclaim your ability to play…

June 15, 2015

Wow! Some things just hit closer to home than others and this post on tickld.com hit very close for me –

http://www.tickld.com/x/this-guy-just-changed-the-way-we-seecalvin-and-hobbes

This post changes how you see the old favorite comic strip Calvin and Hobbes.  I loved that strip and was bummed, like so many others, when it was discontinued. More importantly, I could relate to the scenario that was the premise for the strip. I suspect that we all had some imaginary friend like Hobbs when we were little. As an adult I find myself “voicing” responses in conversations with my dogs Sadie and Skippy. They are my current Hobbs’es.

I’ve written here before about losing the ability that we had as children to play and to imagine things and friends to play with. I love the saying, “We don’t lose our ability to play because we get old; we get old because we lose our ability to play.” The story above about Calvin on his deathbed reestablishing the ability to see Hobbs as a real live lion again and then passing Hobbs on to his grandson is poignant and touching.  I literally can’t read this story without tearing up.

pillow fightThere is much more than just the loss of innocence that occurs when we “grow up”. We are taught how to suppress the things that allowed us to have the type of fun that is a part of childhood, to be silly and to summon our imaginary friends when we needed them. We are forced to “fit in”, to “act like an adult” and “be serious.” Soon we lose the ability to giggle and laugh out loud at funny things that happen in life, because that wouldn’t be proper. We learn to “keep a stiff upper lip”, to “deal with it” and to “shake it off”. What we lose in that process of growing up is our sense of wonderment in the world around us and our ability to play without keeping score.

As I get older, things like this little story take on greater meaning. I try not to get hung up on the inevitability of death, but rather to recapture some of the freedom of being a child and being able to play or imagine things without regard to what others may think. I go to the gym most days and, even though I’ve discovered that I can no longer do many of the things that I once could do, I keep trying.  I may get a few people saying, “Look at that old fool; what does he think heboy imagining is, a kid again?” Don’t I wish.

Now, you’ll have to excuse me; I’ve got to go have another grand adventure with Sadie and Skippy. We have such great talks on our walks.


Get back to the sweet innocence of life…

June 19, 2014

“There is some kind of a sweet innocence in being human- in not having to be just happy or just sad- in the nature of being able to be both broken and whole, at the same time.”  ― C. JoyBell C.

That was the quote on a recent post from Jack Freed on his Jacks Winning Words blog. I scalesfound it to be an interesting quote to give some thought to. It is perhaps when we lose that “sweet innocence” and allow one side of our nature to take over (usually the sad side) that we become really broken and depressed.  It is important to keep that balance between the happy and the sad in life and maybe even important to keep trying to tilt it towards the happy side.

There are many things in life that can try to break you – the loss of a job, a divorce, a death or maybe watching a loved one fade away in the grip of Alzheimer’s disease. It would be really easy to allow those things to drag you into a more or less permanent state of sadness. Recognizing that fact and fighting it by finding the other things in life that makes you happy is critical. Sometimes it is hard to summon up those things – a favorite place, a favorite vacation memory, other man daydreamingloved ones who are still there, maybe a favorite pet – but they are still there and they may need to have some time in your thoughts to balance your life out a bit.

Sometimes just turning to prayer can take you to a better place for a while and may help trigger other, more pleasant thoughts than those of the crisis at hand. It can also relieve the burden, if you can get to the place where you allow God to take over by saying to yourself or out loud – “Not my will but thy will be done.”

To some that may seem like a cop-out, but to most that is the only way to get to the state of mind where you can let go of things that you cannot control. In the world of fine dining sherbet is often served between courses to “cleanse the pallet” between courses and get ready for the next course. Perhaps prayer can be thought of as a way to cleanse the pallet of your mind and get it ready for what is next.

Yes, you will probably still have to deal with the things going on around you that caused your sadness, but you can now do so with the burden lightened because you now admit that it is not all up to you and that you are doing all that you can, with the rest up to a child fishin gin puddlehigher power. Perhaps you will also be able to allow some of happiness back into your life and get back into that balanced state of sweet innocence. You can be whole again. So, take a moment and allow yourself to have some happy thoughts.


Occasionally let the fairies and elves return…

October 6, 2012

There is an age of innocence when fairies and elves, trolls and witches are real to us all. Usually that is a very young age and we all “outgrow” that age and that innocence all too fast. We don’t actually outgrow it, we are forced to give it up; dragged into the world of “big boys and girls” who don’t believe in that stuff by adults and older children. It’s sad really, because the world of imagination that is abandoned in that passage into the “big” world is one of wonder and delight.

I remember one summer when my eldest grandson was little I would occasionally take him on walks with our dog, Odie. There is a small area of dense woods close by, behind the Muir Middle School, of not more than an acre. Those became the magical “woods” that he and grandpa walked through that summer. It was magical because someone (or something) had built a series of little shelters amongst the fallen trees and limbs in those woods.

These crude little shelters that we found in the woods were not much more than a few sticks stacked carefully against a fallen tree trunk, or sometimes free standing, with a few boughs on top to form a roof. They each clearly had an entrance. I’m sure that someone had great fun making them, perhaps as little shelters for rabbits or other small animals. Each little “house” was only a foot or so tall and not much more than that around. So, I told my grandson that these were the houses that the fairies and elves of the forest live in and he had the best time imagining that this was true and telling his mom about seeing their homes.

Of course the innocence that allowed him to believe that there were fairies and elves in the woods and that we had seen their homes didn’t last. By the next year he was already questioning who had built those little shelters and why. He had already become a big boy. The fairies and eves were gone for him.

It was, on one level, that age of innocence and the ability to believe in fairies and elves and dragons that was the subject of the famous Peter, Paul and Mary song, Puff the Magic Dragon. Of course the big boys of the world saw a different level and meaning to that song; but the songs story played out much the same as my story with the little houses. For a while the magic of innocent imagination allowed Puff the Magic Dragon to exist and then he disappeared under the sobering weight imposed by growing up.

There is still within us all a capacity to recapture a moment or two of that wonderful childhood innocence. Most of us are too much “in control” to allow those moments to happen; but some can relax, sitting by a campfire on a cool Autumn night, perhaps with a small creek babbling away nearby, and allow our minds to wander and our eyes to defocus. In those moments, if you let them back into your lives, you might see the fairies dancing in the flames of the fire or hear the elves scurrying around the edges of the campfire light. No one else need see the smile that will come to your face when the fairies and elves return.