Ah, the genius of Charles Schultz.
I’ve always been a Peanuts(c) fan…when I was a kid I read it voraciously; I eventually knew most of the strips by heart – I used to play a game where I would ask someone to open a Peanuts book to a random panel and cover up the dialogue, and I would recite it from memory. These days I’m happy if I can remember what I’m trying to do at any given moment – there are literally times when I walk into a room and can’t remember why I’m there.
But I digress.
This panel, brilliant in its simplicity, touches on so many poignant topics in Human Experience and emotion. Linus’ eternal hopefulness, sincerity, standing up to ridicule for his beliefs, as well as his denial of reality when it doesn’t fit in with his version of truth. Snoopy’s generally accepting nature, willingness to follow his friend and support him and be nonjudgmental about his beliefs, regardless of how ridiculous they seem. Each of these facets is worth discussing.
The point that jumped out at me most is Snoopy’s simplicity. “When do we eat?” Implying that the whole concept behind why they are there in the pumpkin patch bores him, he is not capable or interested in understanding it or analyzing its truth, he just doesn’t have the ability to process all of that. He just wants to eat.
Simplicity is often seen as an undesirable quality. Think of your own reaction when you hear the word. Simplicity. It conjures the concept of stupidity, being unable to think effectively, unable to grasp and process complex problems or arrive at solutions, a general lack of sophistication and a generally lower class of existence. Especially in today’s world where solutions to complex prolems are so valued, invention of an intricate and precise nature are looked at with respect, and educational systems strive to produce gradueates who know as much as possible, as deeply as possible, about the maximum number of topics, the concept of simplicity is scorned. To the contrary – for the most part we live our lives constantly striving to achieve higher levels of complexity. A job with more responsibility, gaining more material possessions, learning and understanding as much as possible, taking on new projects, growing families and circle of influence.
As the expression goes: Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Personal growth, learning and comprehending, advancement in career, financial security, life accomplishment are excellent goals. But too often they predispose an attitude that complicated is always better. This is not the case. At their core, simple people are happier people.
“Behold, this only have I found: that God made man upright; but they search for many schemes.” (Kohelet 7:29) ”
“Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify.” (Henry Thoreau)
“Meditation is how to drop knowledge. Meditation means how to become ignorant again. Meditation means how to become a child again, a rose bush, a rock. Meditation means how just to be and not to think.” (Osho)
Simplicity can have many facets: enjoying the simple pleasures of life, living in the moment, not worrying about theoretical situations, breaking down concepts to their basic cores. Simplicity can be a conscious choice made by someone who is very capable of being complex, but chooses not to be. It can be a lifetime goal, striving for simplicity. It can be difficult to achieve; practitioners of disciplines such as meditation spend their entire life trying to attain higher levels of simplicity.
In truth, being simple is not simple at all. It is the deepest possible state.