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Bill Watterson’s thoughts on finding fulfillment in life illustrated in the style of Bill Watterson

Aug 27, 2013 By Abraham

A quote from Calvin and Hobbes author Bill Watterson, illustrated by Zen Pencils

Bill Watterson quote from Zen Pencils - 01

Bill Watterson quote from Zen Pencils - 02

Read more about Watterson and this comic.

(via Between Letters)


  1. Simone says:

    Bill Watterson!! Love his work! Love Calvin and Hobbes…
    This illustration is so much like his style. Good job, guys. Beautiful!
    I felt blessed with the message of the post.

  2. Gavin Brown says:

    While this quote presents the positive message that following the masses leads to unhappiness, the solution offered, to “invent your own life’s meaning,” is just radical individualism cutely presented. It’s pithy and reads like a hallmark card, but choosing your own path in rebellion to what society or parents or whoever wants you to do, won’t lead to fulfillment anymore than following the crowd.

    1. Frank says:

      There’s a rather large gap between your internet philosophy and Bill Watterson’s experience of life as we truly live it.

      1. Ian says:

        Amen Frank.

        A confusing philosophy, to boot. So Watterson’s message is “positive” inasmuch as it rebuffs hegemony and collectivism (“following the masses leads to unhappiness”), so we’re satisfied from the start that Gavin is no “socialist.” Yet also not an anarchist (individualism seen as “radical” if exercised). So we must assume something more along the lines of a familial traditionalist, as the danger appears to be “choosing [one’s] own path in rebellion to society or parents.” There are, then, two problems here. The first is that Watterson’s not really promoting “rebellion”–in fact he clearly points to the fact that it will be *misread* as such: “a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric if not a subversive [read rebel, i.e. rebellion].” The very point is that a reader like you would assume rebelliousness is part of the problem.

        On the one side, it’s a gendered message, after all (the regular use of “his” suggests this)–that even in the age of the two working parent household, the prejudice remains that a househusband is somehow a “flake” (suggesting that only women can in-house parent and its misogynist converse, that this is all they should do). At the same time it also points out that opting out of the “working to work” mentality in favor of non-careerist maintenance work that allows for the development of individual projects of love is also frowned upon.

        In all, the message Watterson provides seems far more sophisticated than this cynical safe-zone that wants to have it both ways. Holding close to the need to obey the dictates of family and society is no less “Hallmark” than the sentiments presented in the comic (in fact, it would seem to be more so since “Hallmark” cashes in on the cliches which go must unquestioned by mass culture). But if your point is that *nothing* leads to fulfillment, well, enjoy that.

    2. John Jacob says:


      And you base this (“won’t lead to fulfillment anymore than following the crowd”) on what? Sounds like a jaded and quite possibly non-generalizable opinion presented as a fact.

      You’re entitled to post an opinion, of course; but not to state your opinion as a fact without any backing of why we should consider it such.

      I for one greatly enjoyed the comic. But if the shoe doesn’t fit you, don’t wear it.

      1. B says:

        Well said. We all have different ticks that make us tock. Some are built to embrace societies general view of what success is and others, not so much. I’ll take time over money, because without time, money is useless. And I don’t need much money to enjoy my time.

      2. Gavin Brown says:

        John Jacob,

        I rarely comment on blog posts for this very reason. One cannot really elaborate without taking considerable space, and a profitable discussion is a difficult thing to be had. I’ll write something more substantial and post it today. Just follow the link on my name in this thread.

    3. Stephanie says:

      I enjoyed this comic, as the shoe did fit. I wore it, and I love my life (thanks for that John Jacob). I think Gavin, you are wrong to believe that one cannot create a fulfilling life or that an individual cannot create meaning for their life. I believe the opposite to be true, if we can create a way to live and enjoy our lives, why follow mundane and out of date expectations? The way I see it, we spend 40+ hours a week at a job, a significant chunk of our lives. In order to have a truely happy life those 40+ hours a week should be spent doing something that makes you happy.

      There are many examples in the world where walking away from societal expectations has in fact created a happier, more fulfilling life. I am certain their are people who are happy follwing the crowd and climbing the corporate ladder, supporting their family with a nine digit income, but it isn’t for everyone. I think your opinion falls short by making a sweeping generalization.

    4. J Carls says:

      “While this quote presents the positive message that following the masses leads to unhappiness…”

      No, it doesn’t. Nowhere in the quote does Watterson imply this. But it IS a positive message about not thoughtlessly short-changing yourself while grabbing for brass rings. Unless a brass ring is really what you want, you know? Because, they’re made of BRASS and all that.

      1. Gavin Brown says:

        J Carls,

        I should have said *blindly* following the masses. But thanks for pointing that out relative to the part of my comment that was intended to be charitable towards the author.

  3. sabinamori says:

    my co-worker’s mother-in-law makes $79/hour on the laptop. She has been out of a job for six months but last month her check was $16703 just working on the laptop for a few hours. blog link……ℛush64.COℳ

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