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What I’ve learned from Snoopy

When it’s a Dark and Stormy Night, you’re in a touch of bad weather.

As a girl I was a Snoopy fanatic, in fact, one of my great parenting joys has been in passing off my complete (now vintage) Peanuts collection to my son. We share a common language of substantive humor through Schulz’s works. Of all his abilities to create relatable characters and story lines, is the Snoopy’s story It was a Dark and Stormy Night that feeds my analytical self, always trying to make sense of life’s chaos and interconnections.

In the story (below), Snoopy moves us through several seemingly disjointed characters’ lives. The original comic strip details the unfolding lack of plot as he vacillates between endings, struggling to connect a multi-plot cacophony and proliferation of characters. In the eleventh hour, he takes a leap of creative liberty to tie the whole thing up through far-fetched relationships. In looking at the world we live in, it’s actually not so far from the way we connect and the way storylines intercept. Life can feel pretty random, and it can be stifling to consider how many different yet connected events are taking place in any given moment.

As we age, often we get more roped into our life story than untangled from it. The roots of our memories are strong, and even as we edit our situation adding in new twists and turns, most of the time we remain tethered to strong habit patterns from our history. We are not so different than the trees, the trunks with their deep roots, the bulges and holes from various catastrophes and regrowth. The branches above sometimes intertwine, break off, and grow again.

Even if we try to boundary ourselves off from others, we encounter people and situations on our path, and before we know it we are in the midst of a threaded, sometimes knotted tapestry. We often don’t even see it happening and can be quite content, even unaware that we have intermingled for years, or even decades, until our tact changes, and we contemplate pulling our ‘thread’ from the bigger tapestry. It’s in these moments that we might catch a glimpse of ‘inter-being’, the reality that we are all interconnected and interdependent. In this moment of seeing it, we wake up to the fragility of relationship.

The truth is, our human relationships mirror those in nature. We are a collective, an ecosystem. When there is a loss of species, there is a knock on effect, even and especially with the smallest creatures.  If you have ever lost a loved one, a close friend or a colleague, you will have felt a hole in infrastructure. We miss people for all kinds of reasons, but mostly we undervalue each other in the day to day.

All this from a fictitious hound. Snoopy has many gifts, but perhaps his largest contribution to readers young and old is his imagination. He moves in and out of fantasy, always with a lens on the bigger picture whilst seeing the small details. Most importantly though, he loves birds. There’s simply no one like Snoopy to tie life together and shine a light on what matters most (dancing with the springtime butterflies as the Easter Bunny, of course!)

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

A Novel by Snoopy

For Woodstock, my friend of friends

         Part I

It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly, a shot rang out! A door slammed. The maid screamed.

Suddenly, a pirate ship appeared on the horizon!While millions of people were starving, the king lived in luxury. Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was growing up.

Part II

A light snow was falling, and the little girl with the tattered shawl had not sold a violet all day.

At that very moment, a young intern at City Hospital was making an important discovery. The mysterious patient in Room 213 had finally awakened. She moaned softly. Could it be that she was the sister of the boy in Kansas who loved the girl with the tattered shawl who was the daughter of the maid who had escaped from the pirates? The intern frowned.

“Stampede!” the foreman shouted, and forty thousand head of cattle thundered down on the tiny camp. The two men rolled on the ground grappling beneath the murderous hooves. A left and a right. A left. Another left and right. An uppercut to the jaw. The fight was over. And so the ranch was saved.

The young intern sat by himself in one corner of the coffee shop. He had learned about medicine, but more importantly, he had learned something about life.


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