Tom Wilson is a cartoonist who draws the “Ziggy” cartoons. Cartoonists are a rare breed in that they can communicate with very few words and relatively crudely-drawn pictures. Life as a professional cartoonist must take a brilliant mind, or a deviant mind, or a combination of the two since there are virtually no words employed to make the various points.
The cartoon today in the Journal Sentinel, one of the best parts of this declining newspaper now under the guidance/ownership of USA Today, shows Ziggy pondering his face while looking in the bathroom medicine cabinet mirror. A very simple set-up by Mr. Wilson to be sure as are most of his drawings of Ziggy.
The caption is quite simple and quite profound simultaneously:
“If you’re sad over finding a new wrinkle…just think back to all the smiles it took to make it.”
I pride myself, which isn’t always wise, on being a very positive person that can typically find the good things in an otherwise crummy situation; which also is a great way to drive others bonkers if they have problems making that leap. I admit this is purely a leap of faith, but that is sometimes all we have left in certain situations.
Faith is one of those very deep things we tend to tie to religious beliefs, and that is proper for faith is an absolute requirement if one is to be a real believer as a Christian. We are confronted with so much that tends to fly-in-the-face of logic in our workaday lives that it sometimes just seems too overwhelming to stay rooted in faith.
And along comes Ziggy to help us wise humans get back to reality. We will have wrinkles. We will have problems. We will be saddened by happenings. We may wonder every once in awhile if we are right about this whole faith thing. We acquire the signs of having lived by living.
Life means we’ll have some times when we are seriously challenged to hang on to our faith and to keep on putting one foot in front of the other until we emerge from that deep funk we had to get through. Not one of us gets through this life without experiencing suffering and hurt. We have choices in these situations.
We can pull ourselves up “by the bootstraps” even though the majority of us no longer have bootstraps, or we can choose the option of feeling sorry for self and making those around us miserable, too. There are sufficient issues of real importance that we’ll encounter so we don’t really have to create our own situations by moping through our days affecting others with our cases of self-lament usually over things we ought not to be lamenting in the first place.
My tendency is to have a smile on my face throughout the day, and I know that makes some people uncomfortable or certainly makes them wonder what I take to be able to be the way I am. If I have a secret it might center about the fact that I have a strong faith, I know there are bumps in this road we call life, and I know I want to get through the rougher patches as quickly and painlessly as is possible.
Simply, I do not enjoy being sad. If I can find something to make me happy during a period of sadness, I will use that something as best I can to get to the other side of my current sadness. The something is not alcohol or pills since that only makes things worse. The something is usually whatever God has placed in my path over which I can revel and take my mind off other things. It might be a pretty flower or a baby bird or animal or a beautiful sunrise or sunset, or any of a number of other things that we can see and experience if we open ourselves to that stimuli.
Does it always work so easily? No, of course, it doesn’t. But that means we just have to get back on that horse and ride it again. Do I always get back on that horse right away? No; I am as human or more so than many others. So, I mope and frown and fail to see the beautiful things life brings to me for a while until someone or something hits me with the fact that my attitude is keeping me from getting through the fog and drizzle.
We are all similar in this regard, and we all need help. The magic is finally coming to understand our own weaknesses and getting on with getting on. Ziggy’s reminder about new wrinkles is an important reminder. We can make wrinkles by smiling or by frowning…and smiling is a lot more enjoyable, and drives others a bit nutty trying to figure out why you’re always smiling.