You have a lot of conversations with a variety of people, some whom you question the sanity of and others whom undoubtedly question your sanity. Then you read a few heavy, thought provoking books with intimidating titles and no illustrations. One particular title, To Change the World by J.D. Hunter (he’s a Virginia guy) keeps you awake at night and interferes even with your daydreams, but not in an unpleasant way. You take lots of notes, wear out your highlighter, stand in front of people and tell them your thoughts, and write some blog posts. Then type up your family Christmas card letter. You pray a lot. One night, after you’ve stayed up too late, indulging in the guilty pleasure of watching grown men wrapped in plastic assault one another while chasing an oddly shaped ball across a manicured lawn, you sit in your living room. There, while everyone else is asleep, in the dim glow of the Christmas tree, listening to the dog snore, you think, “What have I done?”
Coming of age in the mid 80's to early 90's Calvin and Hobbes helped me come to grips with many of the realities of suburban life in America. Of course I'm referring neither to the French theologian nor the English political scientist. No, I'm talking about two comic strip characters; a boy and his plush tiger willed to life by the sheer force of a 6 year old's imagination. Arguably the last great comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes came to an apparently premature end when its mildly reclusive creator Bill Watterson became disenchanted with the industry. In a documentary entitled Dear Mr. Watterson former editor Lee Salem explains, "Calvin and Hobbes was going to be huge in licensing...but Bill made it clear he was not going to do it." Watterson felt continually pressured to commercialize his work, as if it were not satisfactory to simply appreciate Calvin and Hobbes as legitimate art.
Some things aren’t worth worrying about. For example, the label on the bottle that warns me, with the exhortation “for external use only,” that shampoo is only for hair. The only one in my household whom I am remotely concerned about confusing the shampoo for a cocktail isn’t old enough to be able to read warning labels anyway. Of course there’s the dog, but he has previously demonstrated an intense distrust of things associated with the bathtub, so I don’t think ingesting shampoo is high on his list of priorities. Otherwise I can’t imagine downing shots of conditioner every morning in hopes of attaining fuller, healthier hair. How long would one have to do so before being driven, presumably by mediocre results, to actually read the directions on the bottle? There are lots of things to worry about besides the taste of Garnier Fructis as compared to Herbal Essence, thus it is only natural to filter out some of the superfluous warnings in deference to more pertinent dangers. As far as shampoo goes I think I’ve got that one covered, thus I don’t spend a lot of time sweating the cautions on the label. Happily, most of us can say our shampoo does not pose a major threat to our way of life.