I’ve cried reading "Calvin and Hobbes." Not sad tears. Tears of hysterical laughter. Bill Watterson’s creative talents and sense of humor are a gift to mankind. But the interesting thing is that there are also a lot of gems of wisdom in his strips (OK, maybe not gems; gems implies rarity. Rocks? Rocks of wisdom?). In between sassing his parents, ruining Susie’s life, and finding the most gruesome ways destroy his snowmen creations, Calvin says some pretty insightful things. (I remarked to my roommate the other day that this first grade comic strip character is way smarter than I am as a college student).
“Things are never quite as scary when you’ve got a best friend.”
Truth. I completely understand the value of trying new things all on your own, but there have also been times in my life when I’ve tried new things and really appreciated having a friend. I joined a public speaking club in sixth grade; I was scared to death of the thought of opening my mouth and airing my opinions in front of a large group of people I barely knew, but it made it so much less nerve-wracking knowing that my best friend was doing it for the first time as well. We were in it together and could support each other. Plus, just knowing someone when you step into a new situation makes a huge difference. It may seem super obvious, but we as humans are so relational. We like to share both positive and negative experiences with others, to make the positive experiences even better and the negative ones less difficult. And in case you’re wondering – that club was awesome. The people I was a part of it with made it even better.
“It’s funny how day by day, nothing changes. But when you look back, everything is different.”
I can 100 percent relate to this. For the past three years, I have gone through different variations of the same routine. Get up, attend classes, go to meals, do homework, hang out with friends. If it’s the weekend, I go to a coffee shop to study on Saturday and to church on Sunday. If it’s summer, I get up for work instead of classes. I fall into a pattern, and before I know it, the semester is over. Then the year is over. Then another and another. When I stop to look back, I realize exactly what this quote says -- everything is different. My life as a junior in college looks nothing like my life as a 14-year-old high school freshman. Some might say it’s because the change happens gradually, but I think it’s just the opposite -- it happens in the blink of an eye, so quickly that it doesn’t even compute that a change is taking place. You get used to the new stage, and it isn’t until you look back that you think, Wow, today looks nothing like three years ago.
“We’re so busy watching out for what’s ahead of us that we don’t take the time to enjoy where we are.”
Guilty as charged. I’m constantly thinking ahead to the next paper, the next test, the next assignment and anticipating the time when all that work is finally completed. I sort of have to do this because otherwise I, uh, fail out of college. The problem is that I have not yet found the right balance between future vision and present contentment. When that crazy busy week rolls around, and I have two papers, an exam and an assignment that I almost forgot about, my mantra is “I can’t wait until Friday. I can’t wait until Friday,” and I forget to appreciate each day as it comes. I don’t want to look back and regret that I was so anxious to finish that I didn’t appreciate where I was, the time I was given and the experiences that happened along the way. I’m not saying “Don’t do your homework” -- that is generally not advisable. I’m saying, “Don’t think in terms of next Tuesday after your paper is due. Think in terms of right now, what you can learn from the process of writing this paper, what you can appreciate about today, what is happening in the moment.”
And now, for a random funny quote from Susie, because who doesn’t like random funny quotes from Susie: “I don’t know what’s weirder -- that you’re fighting a stuffed animal, or that you seem to be losing.”
Note: All quotes are from various "calvin and Hobbes" collections by Bill Watterson.