Are you wearing your lucky rocket ship underwear?
At the very least I will introduce you to Calvin and Hobbes (or reintroduce you) — created by Bill Watterson, this iconic comic strip follows the exploits of a young boy named Calvin, and his sidekick Hobbes. Offering a view of the world through the lens of a young boy, their adventures are insightful, identifiable, heartfelt and very, very funny. I have at least three compilations on my bookshelf.
I only bring this up because I came across a Calvin and Hobbes strip I had in a file — when I looked at it I was awash with the feeling of being wrapped in a warm blanket… comforting. When I read it, I laughed out loud.
Calvin: You know, Hobbes, some days even my lucky rocket ship underpants don’t help.
Hobbes: Well you’ve done all you can do.
What makes this brilliant is how you decide to interpret Hobbes’ response — with empathy or sarcasm? If it’s empathy, the response is funny because rocket ship underpants aren’t really a solution, and if it’s sarcasm, it’s funny because rocket ship underpants aren’t really a solution. What makes this really funny though, in a knowing way, is there are times we’ve all felt we’ve done all we can do and things still aren’t going our way; stating quietly (or loudly) to anyone who will listen, “I’ve done everything I can do.” — and tethered to it, more often than we’d like to admit, the suggestion that “I’ve done everything I can do; it’s not my fault”. At best “lucky rocket ship underpants” is a euphemism for “I’ve tried everything I know, and no matter what I do, I can’t overcome the situation”, and at worst, it’s a euphemism for “I quit”; neither which overcome the situation.
There are situations (or problems) that will be bigger than your skills sets, capabilities and endurance, and create an uncomfortable choice: find a way or put on your lucky rocket ship underpants. Ever the optimist, I will say there is always a way, but it’ll definitely be something new, different, scary, and take you where you’ve never gone before (literally and figuratively). In fact it’s the only way.
And if you find yourself saying there is no way, as comfortable and cool looking as they are, you’re lucky rocket ship underpants will become a constant reminder of what you could’ve done. And none of us wear regret very well.