I love Calvin and Hobbes. It’s a classic – part hilarious comedy, part serious commentary on life. Many of the strips, even the lighter ones, give some great insight on human nature and are food for philosophical thought. These are two that I thought were especially thought-provoking.
C: If you could ask for anything, what would it be?
H: A big, sunny field to be in.
C: A stupid field? You’ve got that now! Think big! Riches! Power! Pretend you could have anything!
*Hobbes napping in his field*
C: It’s hard to argue with someone who looks so happy.
Happiness isn’t life’s end game and it’s definitely not guaranteed. But desiring to be happy is not wrong either, as long as we have an appropriate perspective on it. As a college senior, I am having to make decisions that can (will) affect the rest of my life. It’s easy for me to think like Calvin – I want to be successful, I want to live in an exciting city, I want to travel the world. None of those desires are wrong, and I hope that they come true someday. But I when I start thinking, “That’s it, that’s the key, that’s how I’ll be happy,” that is when those desires start to become poisonous. Those things can’t fulfill; I know that on a head-level, but sometimes it’s much harder to believe it on a heart-level. But what’s even harder to accept is the fact that God doesn’t promise that I’ll be happy. I’m okay with realizing that success won’t make me happy, that wealth won’t make me happy, that a lot of times even people won’t make me happy. But the idea of not being happy at all? That’s a lot more difficult to swallow. God does promise peace, and hope, and a life beyond this, and those are the things that I should be clinging to, but it’s much easier said than done.
“If good things last forever, how would we appreciate how precious they are?”
I understand the sentiment behind this; as fallen people we often have a skewed perspective. Once we start thinking that we’ll always have something, we start to take it for granted. We associate value with finiteness, and it is only the realization that we could lose something (or the actual loss of the thing itself) that makes us appreciate it. On the other hand, though, I think this is also a way of comforting ourselves in the face of our own finiteness; nothing lasts forever, and we don’t last forever. It’s hard to face that thought, so we tell ourselves what we want to hear, what comforts us. But these truisms leave us unsatisfied, and I think that’s because we weren’t designed to be here and then gone; we were designed to live forever in a communion with God that never gets old and that we never take for granted. We’re twisted and broken and we no longer have the right mindset or priorities, but there is that yearning for something more, something lasting. The wonderful thing is that for those who know Jesus, heaven is lasting – it will be precious not because it ends, but precisely because it doesn’t end. Because it is an eternity with the One who restores and fulfills.
I know that not everyone necessarily agrees with this perspective, but I think that’s one of the things that is so great about Watterson’s work. It forces us to examine ourselves and our own ideas, to think about some of the “big picture” questions.
Note: Neither of these quotes are my own (obviously). They are from various Calvin and Hobbes collections by Bill Watterson.