What If Calvin and Hobbes Were In Your Soul Group?

How we treat each other is critical, isn’t it?  What a phenomenal impact we have on one another.

What If Calvin and Hobbes were in your Soul Group?

Image Credit Expat Nomad via Creative Commons (Bill Watterson’s last Calvin and Hobbes strip)

I know a little boy who looked exactly like Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes when he was six like Calvin.

At his preschool graduation ceremony, he was one of two children who could read.  The two boys stood on stage, each holding the poem their parents had picked for them in front of a huge audience.  The Director of the school picked up the microphone and said she had a surprise for the kids.  She switched their poems so that they could prove to everyone that they could actually read and had not simply memorized their own poem.

Calvin: You know how people are. They only recognize greatness when some authority confirms it.

What if the boys had been nervous using a microphone in front of a big audience for the first time?  What if they flubbed it and were embarrassed and never wanted to do public speaking again?

Calvin: What assurance do I have that your parenting isn’t screwing me up?

Both boys of course could read, and each did fine. They didn’t miss a beat.  A moment later they were dressed as the Three Little Piggies and moving right along.

Fast forward to about a year later at the elementary school where the boy was being tested.  Apparently one reason why little boys throw pencils around the Kindergarten room instead of working is that they’re bored.  In spite of the fact that he wiggled in his chair during testing, and got up and down about 100 times, every time the tester asked him if he wanted to stop, he said,”No, it’s fine,” and kept going to the end.

Calvin:  Boy, there’s nothing worse than an inscrutable omen.

How much pressure can we put put on a 5 year old?  Things have changed since I was 5 and we had a half day of school, the highlights of which were playground, milk out of a tiny carton, and naps.  Nowadays they are expected to read and write by 5 and if they don’t, well, they don’t get into Gifted where they shove them into maturity beyond their years, I guess.

Calvin: I understand my tests are popular reading in the teachers’ lounge.

Now about half of the children in this school get into the gifted program, ranging from Smart to Super Genius.  This particular boy was the later.  The school administrators said they had never seen anything like this boy before.

Calvin: People think it must be fun to be a super genius, but they don’t realize how hard it is to put up with all the idiots in the world.

Hobbes: Isn’t your pants zipper supposed to be in the front?

The boy wrote a better dissertation on a mythology series at the age of 6 than most college papers would reflect.  The analysis involved was so complex that his mother had to read the book to understand what he was talking about.  She had to type the book report though while he explained it to her, because he can’t write or spell in an intelligible fashion yet, and the teacher told his mother to do this “so he could get his ideas out.”

Calvin: Sometimes when I’m talking, my words can’t keep up with my thoughts. I wonder why we can think faster than we speak?

Hobbes: Probably so we can think twice.

While in the first grade, he was put in the third grade class for Reading Comprehension group and he said they were slow because they were given 2 weeks to read the assigned book and he had it done by breakfast the day after he received it.

Calvin: I sure am great! I’m one of the greatest people who ever lived! How lucky people are to know someone as great as me! I’m great in so many great ways! In fact, I’m so great that my greatness is…

Susie: You’re not great! You’re the most conceited blowhard I’ve ever met!

Calvin: When you’re great, people often mistake candor for bragging.

His Mom was told to make sure that he was put into camp this summer rather than kept at home “for socialization.”  So she put him into summer camp  and one day when she came to pick him up, the counselor was waiting for her.  “He refuses to take one off no matter how many times we tell him to.”  There he came, walking on one flip flop.  You know, the new ones his Mom had just bought him because the dog ate his other pair.  Up, down, up down he walked.  They had been to the pool and when they went to change, he shoved his flip flips under the heavy theater curtains where they would be safe until he came back.  Except, they weren’t.

The next day at pick-up time he came up to his Mom holding something behind his back.  The other flip flop.  The counselor told her that Tyrone had given it back,”Because I guess even he couldn’t figure out what to do with just one stolen flip flop.”  The “even he” portion of the remark seemed to be directed at the fact that Tyrone was a different race than most of the other kids.

Hobbes: I had resolved to be less offended by human nature, but I think I blew it already.

One day last week there was a field trip and something happened with Tyrone.  I don’t know what it was but the end result was, Tyrone was crying a bucket of tears and the other kids were teasing him.  When the flip flop kid was picked up, he related the story to his mother.

His Mom asked him,”So, what did you do?”

He said,”I told the other kids to Shut Up.”

“So, you defended Tyrone.  Did it help?”

“No, not really.”

“So, is Tyrone Friend or Foe?”

“I’m not sure,”  the boy said.  “I think, a little of both.”

Calvin is outside, looking up at the stars.
Calvin: I’M SIGNIFICANT!…screamed the dust speck.

Since then, they’ve been pretty good friends.

Somewhere along the line between six and now, we’ve had people and media pointing out our differences.   Can you remember when it was that you started classifying people and they started classifying you?  Which kid were you?  Smart or dumb?  Was it by race or religion?  Did you ever treat people differently based upon what job they had or felt looked down upon because of what you do?  Have you ever dismissed someone and not even looked in their face as you did a transaction with them or had people dismiss you?  If you look at everyone as just (or simply) a Soul, all of that falls away.  It ceases to matter if they’re fat or thin, what they dress like, or any of that.

Calvin: Look, a dead bird!

Hobbes: It must’ve hit a window.

Calvin: Isn’t it beautiful? It’s so delicate. Sighhh… once it’s too late, you appreciate what a miracle life is. You realize that nature is ruthless and our existence is very fragile, temporary, and precious. But to go on with your daily affairs, you can’t really think about that…which is probably why everyone takes the world for granted and why we act so thoughtlessly. It’s very confusing. I suppose it will all make sense when we grow up.

Hobbes: No doubt.

When you’re six, you might acknowledge there’s a difference between boys and girls, but you don’t care which class they’re in, what team they’re playing on and what color shirt they have on.  You might notice if they’re running like the wind or gasping for breath on the soccer field, or if they’re sitting on the sidelines reading a book.  If they like the things you like, have a cool new toy or know how to play a new game – you’re in.  Differences are interesting and helpful in expanding your experience and frame of reference.

Imagine you’re six again and fast forward through your life.  Think about your family, your friends, your classmates, your coworkers, your spouse, your children…all of the people you’ve met in this lifetime.  Imagine that there was a reason you met them.

Calvin: Mom and Dad drive me crazy. They don’t understand me and I don’t understand them. It’s hopeless! I’m related to people I don’t relate to.

Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential-as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth. You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them. –

Bill Watterson, Kenyon College Commencement Address (May 20, 1990)

The impact of our childhood labeling and the people we are surrounded by and engage with as we grow up seems to really stick with us like glue.  No matter what kind of experience you had, how do you think it moulded you into who you are today?  Did it help or hinder you?

Credit for Calvin and Hobbes quotes to Bill Watterson