Life lessons from a stuffed tiger

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For as much as I voraciously read the written word via novels and short stories,  the true expression of human (and stuffed tiger) nature can be authentically represented in the cartoon series Calvin and Hobbes.  In a few well-constructed lines of  illustration, a precocious 5-year old child with the sharp wit and mental fortitude of an adult can sum up what I strive to achieve in five or more paragraphs of sheer pontificating.

It’s okay to share your feelings.

It’s okay to have an opinion and stand behind it.

It’s okay to dance like nobody is watching.

It’s okay to stretch the boundaries of creativity and individuality to be your authentic self.

And most importantly, it is imperative that you take the time to enjoy your life.

The true mark of who we are as a person is determined by how much we put our full faith into everything that makes us who we are.  Not everyone will understand every nuance of our being but the cherished few who take the time to realize what makes us special carve that deep place into the recesses of our hearts and solidify their presence in our existence. We spend so much time worrying about what other people think, wasting those precious hours and minutes being concerned about other people’s opinions, instead of relying on our own opinion.

With a few shaded lines and some more-than-realistic dialogue,  the rich imagination of Bill Watterson seeped into the hearts and minds of many fans, leaving with them the curiosity and the keen sense of imagination that Calvin represents.  Inside all of us still lurks the wonder of our inner child, the honest feelings we are afraid to show and the sincere desire to be exactly who we are without putting up a false front.

Perhaps we need to create a new story line for ourselves.   Cartoons have the ability to be re-drawn until they portray the feeling of the illustrator.   Why can we not follow that same logic and erase the lines of our first drafts to accurately portray the character we truly want to be, illustrate our lives as we see them?

Be your own Calvin.  Don’t let your imagination be diminished by other’s realities.  Be true to yourself, stand by your opinions and embrace the relationships that you find important, even if others think that they are frivolous.  Hobbes is only a stuffed tiger to those who do not believe in the possibility of anything beyond their reality.

(All image credits to Bill Watterson)

Or sometimes more than a thousand words

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When I first saw it, I was captivated by it.  A simple photo of a friend on Facebook grabbed and held my attention but it was no ordinary photograph.  I had hoped there was more of an explanation to it than mere Photoshop and I was thrilled to hear her tell the story behind the picture.

She had agreed to have her portrait done by her friend who is fascinated by the origin of photography.  He posed her and painstakingly went through the process that photographers went through back in the late 1800’s.  His camera was an antique with the accordion-style lens and the black hood that covered the head of the photographer.

He waited until the precise moment that he thought he had captured her true essence and he let his finger plunge the button that would acquire every detail of her spirit.  The result of his effort was remarkable.  He printed her face on tin to truly encapsulate the original process of printing a photograph.

I stared at her photo for a long time.  There was so much more to it than just a picture of her face.  There was a story in her eyes.  His diligent process captured much more than just who she is now.  This snapshot seemed to hold the story of generations, perhaps lifetimes of moments that led up to her being in his studio and posing for this shot.

It wasn’t a selfie or a picture as a second thought.  There weren’t 100 takes in a minute because that is all we have time for nowadays.  He paused, he let the camera do what it was meant to do and he took a thousand stories, captured them in one single photo and printed them on a piece of tin.

erin

Look at the artwork in this photo and hopefully you can now understand why I was so drawn to my friend’s picture.  Without the use of any computer tricks, this photograph projects so much more than just a face on a piece of paper or a computer screen.  This picture has depth, emotion and a lifetime of moments that led to her presence in our present reality.

If I ever have the chance to do this, I will jump at it.  I would love to see what kind of story my face has to tell and what ghosts from my past linger in the background, searching for recognition.

I’ll take 40-something over 20-something any day

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Arthritic pains, hot flashes, stress and wrinkles withstanding, I would not relive my twenties if you paid me.  That creased, hot-to-the-touch skin cloaks me in a sense of comfort that I was never afforded two decades ago.  In those days, I wore a skin that never felt comfortable.  That twenty year old skin never seemed to feel like it fit on the body that was attached to my brain.

Perhaps these wrinkles are the road map of the journey that led me to where I am now.  Each crevasse that is etched into my skin marks a milestone that ensured, not only a lesson learned but, a memory was created.  Like every foolish twenty something, I thought I was invincible.  I didn’t necessarily feel like the world owed me anything but I felt like it was my oyster and it was my destiny to find that pearl.

It took me that span of twenty years to realize that I am the pearl in the oyster of my reality.  The epic search for the jewel encased in a hard shell was actually the search for my true self.  The walls that I had created in my teens and twenties became the shell of my oyster and the pearl was me.  Slowly, over these many years, that pearl has come to represent the confidence I now have in myself in every facet of my life.

Spending time chiseling away at the outer shell of my oyster has allowed me to gradually peer into the real meat of my reality and open the doors of that tomb that was my shell.  I no longer feel the same constraints I did in my twenties and if some remnants of those constraints still remain, I don’t care.  It is only a matter of time before the sand on the beach of my reality wears away the residue of that shell that still threatens to inter my world.

In my forties the world has become my oyster, once again, but in a completely different way.  I know who I am and I finally can admit to what I want.  My obstacle now is not the boundaries of my shell but the only the boundaries of my courage and my imagination.

It could be really great…..or go completely pear-shaped!

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spare time

Spare time is defined by thefreedictionary.com as “time available for hobbies and other activities you enjoy”.  I had to read that to refresh my memory as to its true meaning since I have not been able to really enjoy any for quite some time.

When you work in the hostility hospitality industry, time of the spare variety is few and far between.  Those waning hours of consciousness after working a twelve-hour day consist of having a libation of your choice and trying to keep your eyes open for longer than an hour after your body pours itself onto the couch.  It is difficult to enjoy an artistic hobby from behind partially closed eyelids.

But all that could change.  The summer staff are arriving, one by one, and my weekly schedule is set.  No more twelve-hour days are in my future, at least that is my conviction at this point, and this fleeting “spare time” could become more of a realistic part of my day.

The weekly calendar begins tomorrow.  The first of many crazy Saturday check ins will come and go and the weeks in between should be routine, in a perfect world.  Life, as I used to know it, should allow me a little more freedom to walk my dog, read the words of fellow bloggers, read a book or just simply enjoy the ever-elusive unoccupied moments of my life.  If all goes well, I will have moments of greatness spent doing exactly what I want to do.

To quote Marthe Troly-Curtin, “Time  you enjoy wasting, is not wasted time”.  (image credit)

 

 

I had come home

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coming home

There was no sweat on my palms,

merely a certainty I had never known.

There was no rapid heart beat,

only a calm, a sense of knowing

that when we met

we were meant to meet.

It was a feeling of being brought together

after a lifetime apart.

It was a sense that a long journey

had finally come to an end.

It was an understanding

of a soul knowing a soul,

and that our time to meet again had come.

 We had met before,

perhaps decades or a lifetime ago.

We had since locked our doors

and hidden inside,

but your eyes knew my eyes.

You had seen my heart before

and when we met again,

 I recognized you without hesitation

because so much about you was familiar.

I had come home

and you were there to welcome me.

A warped sense of entitlement

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I have never been one to define myself by my generation but the more time I spend just existing in each day the more I realize how profoundly different my perspective is on what this world owes me compared to the twenty-somethings of this new generation.

When I was in my twenties, and even now, I never for one moment thought the world owed me anything.  It was up to me to put in the work to earn my place on this revolving planet and prove to everyone that I deserved my spot here.   And I have continued my journey in that paragon of reality.  But so many of the generation of today feel a sense of entitlement and hope to gain the greatest amount of accolades with the least amount of effort.  They seem to expect everything for nothing.

The thought process plagues me and I spend countless hours wondering where this ideology began.  Where did they acquire this sense of entitlement?  How is it they can feel so exempt from basic human nature as to not strive for achievement and the resounding sense of accomplishment that follows without putting in the work?  They have become a generation of people willing to rest on the laurels of others and take the credit for the blood, sweat and tears that they have not emitted.  They live in the pampered dog world – not the dog eat dog – world and it makes me fear for their longevity in the authenticity of being a member of the human race.

A sense of attainment is based on hard work.  You get back what you put forth.   That dog eat dog world promotes the attitude of “survival of the fittest” and those who are deemed fit are those who actually compete.  If you are sitting on the sidelines and simply relishing in the victory of the team without playing, you are winning by default.

There are some members of this younger generation who have made it out from under the blades of “helicopter parenting” and are becoming successful adults who are willing to work hard and take responsibility for their own success.  But the vast number I have encountered rely heavily on others to do the work for them.  A word to the not-so-wise, if your mom calls to get you a summer job your resume will find itself at the bottom of the pile.

To those particular slackers, I say – participate in the outcome of your own journey.  You can only blame other people for so long for any supposed limitations before you are forced to subject yourself to a heaping dose of introspection.  The only limit in your life is the amount of effort you are willing to put forth to strive for personal success.   Life isn’t easy, but the satisfaction achieved when you are successful is well worth the energy exerted to create that success.

Hey twenty-somethings – reality is calling….it wants you to join us.