Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Underlying Message of Underpants

That Calvin is a wise chap. No, not John Calvin, the guy who helped develop Reformed theology, otherwise known as Calvinism. No, not Calvin Klein, the guy who helped develop the jeans that make your ass look good. Calvin as in Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin can be quite sage-like with his words of wisdom. Turning to him for such wisdom is oddly helpful at times. I don't know why it seems to help, nor do I know the full extent to which it seems to help. But it does.

The key word in the understanding of how Calvin (or anything else utilized in this fashion, really) helps is "seems". As I just said, I don't know if it does help or not. But it "seems" to. Sometimes, things can "seem" to be good, but it turns out that maybe they weren't so good after all. And other times, things can "seem" to be bad, but it turns out that they're not as bad as you thought they were. The thing about "seeming" is that it might not be what you think, which gives a possibility that the situation can change. Whichever is the case, Calvin "seems" to help out.

It's hard to say in which situation the Calvin Comfort theory is the most effective. Most likely, it's when things seem to be good and then they head south that you'd want to induce a little Calvin. I mean, when things seem like they're just a disaster, they usually turn out to be not as bad as they were perceived. (Well, not at first. At first, a disaster is a disaster. But in taking time for a second or a third look, you might see that it wasn't as bad as you'd thought.) Now, when things are good and then turn not so good, it's harder than things that just suck from the beginning.
When it goes from good to not so good through your own actions (which, in hindsight, were poorly thought out & definitely ill-advised), well, that's even harder. That's when you're going to need something other than continually kicking yourself in the ass, because the kicking (while warranted) won't help to fix whatever it is that you might have broken.

And while Calvin can't fix it either, because it might not be able to be fixed, he can help you find perspective through words that are oddly inspiring, considering that they come from a comic strip kid who talks to a stuffed tiger that talks back.


Calvin's one sentence statement to Hobbes below sums up exactly how things feel when they seem to be not so great; they feel as if nothing we have going for us is making a difference at that particular time; not even our lucky rocketship underpants. But Hobbes knows that we tried or that we're trying. And I think that's why it helps. If Hobbes can see that Calvin tried, that's enough for us to hope that someone will notice that we've tried and will also notice that we're trying. Whether it's trying to fix something we did or just trying to help things to be better, there's that hope that it's known that we want it to be different and that we're trying. With or without our underpants.

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