This Zen Pencils cartoon won the Internet this week.
It’s a lovely tribute to Bill Watterson, the amazing and enigmatic creator of Calvin and Hobbes, and it’s a profound exhortation to live an excellent, authentic life.
Click through, read, and enjoy. And then get lost in Zen Pencils. The creator, Gavin Aung Than, is doing beautiful work, mixing cartooning with life wisdom, and he is living the story he’s telling in this Watterson tribute. He abandoned the conventional career path and is making his own way. And using his talent to help awaken possibilities in others.
More about Watterson’s Kenyon College commencement speech, on which the Zen Pencils cartoon is based, is over on Brain Pickings. I love this part about playfulness and creativity:
It’s surprising how hard we’ll work when the work is done just for ourselves. And with all due respect to John Stuart Mill, maybe utilitarianism is overrated. If I’ve learned one thing from being a cartoonist, it’s how important playing is to creativity and happiness. My job is essentially to come up with 365 ideas a year.
If you ever want to find out just how uninteresting you really are, get a job where the quality and frequency of your thoughts determine your livelihood. I’ve found that the only way I can keep writing every day, year after year, is to let my mind wander into new territories. To do that, I’ve had to cultivate a kind of mental playfulness.
At school, new ideas are thrust at you every day. Out in the world, you’ll have to find the inner motivation to search for new ideas on your own. With any luck at all, you’ll never need to take an idea and squeeze a punchline out of it, but as bright, creative people, you’ll be called upon to generate ideas and solutions all your lives. Letting your mind play is the best way to solve problems.
A playful mind is inquisitive, and learning is fun. If you indulge your natural curiosity and retain a sense of fun in new experience, I think you’ll find it functions as a sort of shock absorber for the bumpy road ahead.
I’m inspired to go dig out my old Calvin and Hobbes collections and share with my daughters. And to play more.