|Peanuts Guide To Life ($10.11) Amazon|
|Andy Cohen, A Once And Future Snoopy Fan.|
In A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown utters the unprecedented line, “I just don’t understand Christmas … I always end up feeling depressed.” Never before had a cartoon child express complex emotions. I was hooked. Charlie Brown’s alienation was not only all too relatable, but charming and funny. The new book, Peanuts Guide To Life, is a must-have for all us fans. The forward (see below) is masterfully written by Andy Cohen, a fellow lover of Snoopy and the gang.
Before I went to bed at night my dad would come tuck me in and hold Snoopy to his ear, repeating to me the things that Snoopy told him about me. Of course I believed that Snoopy could talk and I wanted to hear what he had to say. I found out later he had a lot to say…
If my mom’s omnipresent Peanuts calendar wasn’t close, I could tell what time of year it was by what Peanuts special was on TV. It seemed like Snoopy and the gang were all around me. I liked to draw Snoopy (I still find myself doodling his head and tummy while daydreaming in meetings) and Charlie Brown (especially his shirt and weird shoes). As I got older, I got really plugged into the comic strip and started digesting something larger than just a cartoon.
What did I learn about life from a dog and a bunch of kids? A lot.
Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, Sally, and the whole gang can teach us pretty much everything we need to know about how to behave and we have Charles Schulz to thank for that. In my estimation, the cartoonist deserves an A+ in philosophy; his simple wisdom captivated hundreds of millions of fans around the world and somehow gives all of us permission to feel good about searching for deeper meaning around us.
His messages are simple and universal: Believe in yourself (“Who cares what other people think?” –Sally); find happiness in the little things around you; be decent, self-reliant, and optimistic (“Keep looking up… that’s the secret of life.” –Snoopy); work hard (“No one need ever be ashamed of fingernails made dirty by a hard day’s work.” –Linus); and above all, allow yourself to love (even though Lucy points out, “It’s amazing how stupid you can be when you’re in love.”).
I don’t know how he got away with it, but Schulz had an uncanny ability to simultaneously present joy and melancholy all at once. And that melancholy is part of what makes his work so prescient for me. Schulz made it okay to feel kind of blah every once in a while. That’s just part of life. (And by the way, how “blah” can you feel when Snoopy’s outside lying on his doghouse?)
Peanuts Guide to Life is a collection of some of Schulz’ most simple and entertaining philosophy. It is a perfect roadmap for us all to navigate humanity with dignity and fun.
Oh, and by the way, happiness IS a warm puppy!
New York City, 2013