A Different Way

Copyright Charles M. Schulz/United Features Syndicate

Copyright Charles M. Schulz/United Features Syndicate

Charles M. Schulz's PEANUTS chronicled childhood and humanity over 50 years of comic strips that continue to delight readers of all ages today. It has never been fashionable, hip or cool (despite the presence of Snoopy's 'Joe Cool' alter-ego), but there is something recognizably genuine and real about the wry, gentle humor and stark moments of honest emotion that Mr. Schulz captured in his work that continues to resonate with readers of all ages.

In this series of panels, Snoopy's anguish at the loss of his birthplace conveys both mirth (the exaggerated mannerisms, the exclamation points, Woodstock being flipped over by the force of Snoopy's reaction) and great devastation all at once. The final panel, at first blush, elicits a smile or even a chuckle, but look again - Snoopy's arms raised in anger and indignation, his bellow of despair over how his childhood memories are being desecrated by cars parking all over them... Mr. Schulz ably demonstrates how joy and pain can coexist closely at any point in time. So often, people are able to see one readily but are either unable or unwilling to see the other - and this is true of many emotions.

Most people are adept at disguising how they feel to others - there is an unwillingness to divulge themselves, or a fear of being judged or being a bother to others. Being able to see beyond what is on the surface is one of the gifts of empathy which many people exercise; the friend who can hear through the forced tone of jocularity in your voice; the colleague who notices that a smile seems tinged with a frown; or the partner who is able to listen between the angry-sounding words being said to hear the hurt and pain that is actually being conveyed - these are examples of how we are all capable of offering of ourselves to others when we take a moment to meet them at a personal, human level, rather than at a  transactional level.

Life presents many opportunities to regard ourselves and others in ways that honor who we are as embodied souls worthy of care and concern, but we must be willing and able to look and listen closely. That way, we might meet - truly meet - another, and that will make all the difference.