1. The Possibilities of imagination
As a kid growing up, I was often left alone to my own devices, and seeing someone else who turned to his imagination for entertainment was reassuring. Calvin’s only friend Hobbes was purely created in his mind, and yet they explored entire new worlds together. Nowadays, we live in a culture where children are placed in front of iPad screens and DVD players, and we pump our supposedly A.D.D.-riddled kids full of pills. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that imagination is one of the single most important factor in a person’s life. Don’t let it die.
2. Slow down and just think every once in a while
Saying Calvin and Hobbes is just a comic about a rambunctious 6 year-old is like saying Lost was just about a bunch of people on an island. During some of his more introspective and thoughtful pieces, either Calvin or Hobbes would often wax eloquently beyond the skills of a 6 year old (or a stuffed tiger). It was in this funny, articulate way that Calvin would discuss ideas which helped formulate some of the opinions I still hold now as an adult. Calvin and Hobbes has a way of making you chuckle, and then contemplate what the bigger idea actually was. Engaging a child through humor is one of the greatest teaching tools available. It’s no wonder that The Daily Show is a primary news source for so many young people.
3. Life is full of adventures
The great thing about Calvin is his full appreciation and desire for adventure. Whether it’s time travel, Transmogrifying, or tromping off into the words, Calvin’s slew of escapades are a joy to read. For the most part, we have this sort of desire for something exciting and new, whether it’s moving to a new place, taking a road trip, or simply stepping out of our comfort zones. Yet all too often, I think we find ourselves being complacent and unmotivated, and these sorts of moments are equally captured in the strip while Calvin (slack jawed and slouching) stares at the screaming TV. It is oftentimes Hobbes—the outside force to Calvin’s laziness—who motivates Calvin into adventure. Everyone should see the potential in life, and to go and get it. While Calvin never ages no matter how long he spends in front of the television, we do not share the same luxury as a cartoon character. Everyone should go for the gusto, and seek out adventure rather than feeling the vague desire for it.
4. Friendship pulls you through the tough times
Calvin’s world is a small one. He rarely plays with other kids (except occasionally with his crush Susie Derkins), and is often lambasted and shunned by other children. Truth be told, Calvin is a weird little kid, and sometimes the other kids don’t really get him. Yet Hobbes is the only buddy Calvin really needs. You never know the names of his parents, and the number of other named characters can be counted on one hand. It’s not the quantity of friends that matters, but the quality. It’s a lesson not immediately seen in the comic, but an impression that grows as you get deeper and deeper into the strip. You don’t need to be the most popular kid growing up to have the best friends. If each of us had our own stuffed tiger, think about how much less lonely the world would be.
5. Appreciate Nature
When I a kid, there was a huge briar patch in my town that spanned a couple acres. My friends and I would often carve paths through the towering weeds, creating a network of trails and larger gathering grounds for our secret meetings. Then one day, it was all fenced off, chopped down, and turned into an extension of our neighborhood with some cookie-cutter houses. Sure, the weeds were an eyesore for many who lived there, but for me, the patch’s demolition was devastating. I had waged imaginary wars in those weeds. To me, it was like someone had ruined a great piece of art which could never be replicated again. While I don’t consider myself to be a hardcore environmentalist, I do believe there is a beauty and magic to the natural world. It is far under appreciated in our culture, and it is something that should be instilled into the next generation.
6. Life is unfair, but that’s okay
As a six-year-old boy, Calvin has very little control of his life. He retaliates and rebels against his parents, teachers, babysitter, and anyone else in power over him, yet it generally leads nowhere. Anyone who once was little relates to that and wouldn’t wait to grow up. But what we didn’t realize is this: while you do gain more control as you get older, life doesn’t get any less unfair. Just like your parents told you no “just because,” all too often it seems like life does the exact same thing. But you know what? Those sorts of things will end up helping Calvin in the long run. He under appreciates what his parents and teachers do for him, and while he can’t see how it’s helping him grow, I think neither can we in our own lives. By facing tough times and unfair situations, we all grow as individuals. If we got what we wanted all the time, what kind of person would we be?