A strategy I use to find something to read at any large bookstore is to walk through the mountains of books until my eye catches something my mind remembers. Recently, what my eye lighted upon was a bright yellow book by David Michaelis, "Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography."
I had read some critiques of this book. Some were positive and others negative, because it portrays cartoonist Charles Schulz as being a bit of a loner. In deciding whether or not to buy the book, I asked myself if I wanted reality to interfere with my boyhood memories of Charlie Brown.
All I could do was smile and say to myself, "Thanks, Charlie Brown, for helping me get through my younger years. In fact, thanks for helping get through my life. You showed me that being overweight and a bit uncoordinated were OK as long as you tried to be a good person. Even though confidence was a foreign concept to me, I still tried, because you always tried. Even when you failed to win a baseball game or kick that football, it was all right because everyone around you respected and loved you because you tried.
"Thanks, Charlie Brown, for showing me that it takes all kinds of people to make up our world." I now realize that my life is fuller because I took a little bit of life from the cartoon personalities who surrounded me.
Schroeder's love for music helped me understand that art and music are what makes us truly human. Linus's love for words and philosophy made me want to understand the thoughts and ideas of those who lived before me. Snoopy showed me that being a little kooky was really all right. That lovable dog also showed me that dreaming was part of the human spirit, and that imagination could transport you to Disney World whenever you wanted to go.
Charlie Brown's relationship with the little red-haired girl helped me understand that it was OK to want something even though the fulfillment of the quest seemed impossible. He never gave up. He just continued to dream.
Lucy showed me how important it is to respect everyone, even if they are abrasive and seem uncaring. But even Lucy had a heart. Every time she pulled that football away from Charlie Brown, she always wanted to make sure he was all right.
Peppermint Patty showed us that being female doesn't have to include dresses and lace. A person's outside appearance has little to do with what's inside. Her friend, Marcie, demonstrated that it's fine to be quiet and not in the limelight. Everyone should be loved for who they are and not for what they do.
Snoopy's Red Baron is a good example of the competition and opposition that we sometimes encounter in life. But even though Snoopy and the Red Baron were on different sides, the Red Baron never wanted to hurt Snoopy. He just wanted to be the best in the sky.
To me, even everyday inanimate objects, like the kite-eating tree, represented how competitive the world is. But again, Charlie Brown never gave up. He kept on trying to fly that kite, realizing that to stop trying was to give in to defeat.
The empty mailbox represented all our unrealized hopes and dreams. Sometimes those dreams never get delivered, but Charles Schulz showed us that even though we may have to wait, there's always hope.
Linus's pumpkin patch represented how ideals should never be abandoned even though they seem out of the mainstream.
And, of course, Charlie Brown's scraggly little Christmas tree continues to show us all that even when the present looks dark, the darkest of current realities can become remarkably beautiful in the future through love.
Thanks, Charles Schulz, for all your characters – including Pigpen, who showed me as a kid that being clean all the time was overrated. Thanks for creating the little birds that flew around Snoopy, demonstrating loyalty as one of the most important human traits.
Thank you for helping me mature into the kind of person I wanted to be. Thanks for helping me develop the will never to give up and the understanding that there will always be all types of people in our world.
After thinking it over as I stood there in the bookstore, I decided to pass on that bright yellow book, for how can I ever question what Charles Schulz and Charlie Brown taught me to be?