some thoughts on the real world by one who glimpsed it and fled

bill watterson's comic strip calvin & hobbes was a steady companion during my childhood. my sister had a few books on her own and i remember sneaking into her room and reading about calvin and hobbes' stories time and time again. it was so easy to get lost in calvin's world and enjoy the time together with him and his stuffed tiger.

in his comic, watterson was able to embody the power of imagination, the joy and burden of childhood, the stupidity and futility of generally accepted rules and norms but most importantly a story about an untearable friendship. to me however it seems that at any point in my life i could come back to these stories and find new ways to see and to think about the world, be it memories about my childhood, criticism about the present or advices for the future.

in 1990 watterson gave a great speech at the kenyon college commencement with the title some thoughts on the real world by one who glimpsed it and fled. it features some wise words:

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. to invent your own life's meaning is not easy, but it's still allowed, and i think you'll be happier for the trouble. bill watterson

a few days ago, the great folks at zenpencils adapted his advice into a comic strip. i am most grateful for that.


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