Newsletter: some thoughts by Bill Watterson

Today we are going to reflect a little through Bill Watterson’s words.

Bill drew the Calvin & Hobbes comic strip for 10 years (1985 – 1995), stopping almost suddenly in a moment in which his strip was still enjoying massive success, and having at all times said no to C&H merchandising (he always pointed out that doing so would devalue his characters and their personalities). In 1990, in the cusp of the strip’s popularity, he came back to his alma mater (Kenyon College) for a commencement speech [that can be found here]. The speech was titled Some thoughts on the real world by one who glimpsed it and fled, and what follows are some of its pearls of wisdom:

<< (…) because there is no such thing as an overnight success. You will do well to cultivate the resources in yourself that bring you happiness outside of success and failure.

The truth is, most of us discover where we are headed when we arrive. At that time, we turn around and say, yes, this is obviously where I was going all along. It’s a good idea to try to enjoy the scenery on the detours, because you’ll probably take a few. >>

<< Selling out is usually more of a matter of buying in. Sell out, and you’re really buying into someone else’s system of values, rules, and rewards. >>

<< You will find your own ethical dilemmas in all parts of your lives, both personal and professional. We all have different desires and needs, but if we don’t discover what we want from ourselves and what we stand for, we will live passively and unfulfilled. Sooner or later, we are all asked to compromise ourselves and the things we care about. We define ourselves by our actions. With each decision, we tell ourselves and the world who we are. Think about what you want out of this life, and recognize that there are many kinds of success. >>

<< 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 is to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. (…) 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. >>

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