The Collegian
Wednesday, August 17, 2022

A "Calvin"-ist take on life

Earlier this week, I came across a comic strip from Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson. Calvin's words struck a familiar chord with me. He exclaimed, while sitting in class: "What on earth am I doing in here on this beautiful day? This is the only life I got!"

This, of course, was on an enticingly gorgeous spring day when the sun was shining and I, being the dedicated student I am, was trapped inside the library quiet section.

I sensed this as a sign from above that I was destined to escape to the outdoors, and I renounced my life of academia and challenged my best friend to an endless game of Calvinball.

Sadly, my childish yearning was hindered by the reality of approaching deadlines and due dates, and I quickly snapped back into irritable, stressed-out college student mode once again.

A few hours later, I remembered my encounter with Calvin & Hobbes and went searching for other strips online. I soon ran into my favorite storylines: Calvin's blatant disregard for snowman life, Stupendous Man, Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie, and Spaceman Spiff. The list is almost endless. Essentially every one I came across left me chuckling, annoying everyone else in the quiet section.

As Calvin reached for another bowl of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs, I began to take a trip down memory lane and recalled the wonders of childhood.

I soon found myself wishing to return to the stress-free "good ol' days" when nothing I did seemed to matter, and when I went to bed at night, a reset button got pushed and the world was fantastic and new again by morning.

At some point, we all look back at our earlier years with a sense of longing. We look favorably back at a life that was generally more familiar and comfortable than our lives now.

The greatest challenges for us back then were learning how to ride a bike, finding our friends during an epic night game of hide-and-seek and trying to spell our names without a backwards "e." There were no papers to write or exams to cram for. Pulling all-nighters was reserved only for trying to catch a glimpse of Santa.

Growing up, I remember craving what I expect most of us craved: freedom. I started wanting freedom to eat as many cookies as I desired for dessert, and soon moved on to the freedom to stay up late and the freedom to have a car. (But, this is not the order that I was granted these freedoms. It actually went: car, staying up, cookies.)

I always wished I were older so that I could have these freedoms. But now that I'm older and have a fair amount of freedom in college, I can't help but look back sometimes with a slight amount of regret, wishing I could return to the fond memories of childhood. I have come to realize the value of my years growing up and appreciate them more today than I did back then.

Ironically, as I sit here reflecting back on my youth, the future version of me is probably reflecting back on college life and how great these "good ol' days" were. I suppose the importance of memories is not so much that we can simply reflect and retain ourselves in the past, but that we can be reminded of the magic that this life has to offer.

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Instead of waiting for it to "all make sense when we grow up," we can use these memories to help create new ones. If this is so, the only thing left to say is, "It's a magical world, Hobbes, ol' buddy. ... Let's go exploring!"

Contact reporter Alex Smith at alex.smith@richmond.edu

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