I’ve always hated comics and cartoons. They are so hard to follow and focus on. Or see.
The plot isn’t clear. The characters move too quickly. If it’s a print cartoon the type is usually tiny and hard to read. If it’s an animated cartoon, the characters hop and jump frenetically.
I didn’t get the fascination.
The only cartoon anything I liked as a kid was the paper that held my Bazooka Joe bubble gum. Maybe because it smelled and tasted of sugar and the one-page comics could be turned in for prizes.
Those I could handle but nothing else.
And yes, yes, I was a rather serious child. Even then, as it does today, the world weighed heavy on me. I remember the day I realized the meat in my hamburger had been a living cow and became a vegetarian. I was 14. I couldn’t spell vegetarian but I could live without red meat for the rest of my days.
By high school I was afraid of nuclear war and protesting. There was so much violence, military aggression, sexism, poverty and racism. How did one sleep? Where did one start? Should I become a social worker, work in politics to change the government or become a lawyer to fight the good fight? Those were the questions I was asking at fifteen and sixteen before I was filled with adult responsibilities: cars, kids, homes and love.
How does one live in and love the world and not be consumed or depressed?
How does one make a difference?
I wasn’t sure.
I’m still not sure.
I know what helps.
And it’s usually been in poetry or prose or Sufi-mystic or Mary Oliver form. But now, at close to fifty, I’m falling for comics and cartoons.
They can be seen or heard online as well as read. In this form of storytelling I can now slow it down, hit pause or play or lean back and listen to a story in narrated form.
It feels like I’m just out of surgery and being given ice chips to suck on so the dry mouth can end as strength slowly returns.
I felt tended to and soothed today as I heard about a guy named The Oatmeal and his “It’s going to be okay” story.
Today they played the previously recorded episode and I’m so glad I heard it on the air.
His words were like bread for my hungry heart, filling and fortifying as a fresh loaf meant to be buttered and shared.
May they lift your heart today, too.
May we trust that we, too, are being shaped and not only pained, hurt and suffering. That like him, we may be capable of being brave, offering comfort and help. And that we will be changed.
Some of those changes happen in tragedy, and a future we can’t yet imagine is being formed.
Author: Christine “Cissy” White
Editor: Caroline Beaton
Image: The Oatmeal/YouTube Still