“It was a dark and stormy night.” No wait. “It was a very dark and very stormy night.” Charles Shultz’s beloved character, the beagle named Snoopy, would begin banging out on his vintage typewriter as he sat atop his doghouse and imagined himself to be the great American novelist. The canine boasted a highly developed sense of imagination routinely assuming the mantle of a World War I flying ace or erudite academic attempting to bring along his hapless, if loyal, friend the yellow bird, Woodstock.
Certainly he showed great devotion to his owner, Charlie Brown, and spirit of joy whenever it was supper time, oh supper time, but Snoopy always impressed me in his willingness to jump into everything he did with both feet. It didn’t work out every time. In fact, it often didn’t proceed as planned, but he found the courage and optimism to charge ahead boldly, seemingly unaffected by the concerns of Woodstock or the admonishments of his nemesis Lucy Van Pelt.
If every fantastic journey begins with a step and every great book begins with a single sentence, then why is it that we so resist making an initial move? Does fear of dashing our own self-created expectations prevent us from ever trying in the first place? Or can we legitimately point to those around us for creating an environment wherein we fear error so much that no action is pursued? Snoopy may have never managed to produce the great American novel but his willingness to try (and fail) helped make him an icon.
There is little room today for error. We fear costly mistakes and routinely sacrifice our personal freedoms grasping at an elusive world without risk. Can a responsible person push the boundaries of self-definition? Maybe we should ask, how can we not?