Lesson Learned from Charlie Brown: Dream Big.

mv5bnte5nzmxnzkwnl5bml5banbnxkftztgwotq0nzk5nze-_v1_When one walks under the weight of depression, life itself aches. Despite therapy and the writing regimen both creative and confessional, I have felt little hope for the future. My school has me on reserve to teach not just 40, but potentially 80 students. Bo’s schedule has gone haywire, and we find ourselves in survival mode. I can’t get ten minutes’ peace on the computer when the boys were awake. The church wants me to do A, B, and C in a month–wait, actually 7 days. That’s fine, right?

All this over the past few months, plus taking notes on The Tellinga memoir about recovering from sexual abuse by @ZoeZolbrod. I had already shared two parts of my reflection: of facing the pain within myself, and coming to terms with how an abusive past impacts motherhood.What remains is the final, most painful facing: that with The Monster himself. It will end with either reconciliation and healing with my family as a whole, or severance, and the destruction of several blood ties. We await on when the children can be watched, when life will make it “convenient,” and all the while my lungs knot when my mother brings him up, of having him over for the holidays, and sleepovers, and….

A rather not-fun time, that.

Music, thankfully, alters my insides for the better.

Desperate for a change from Veggie Tales sing-a-longs, I got a copy of The Peanuts Movie soundtrack. My folks both enjoyed Peanuts comics, toys, and cartoons, and that joy passed down to me and my kids. When word came of a new film, I remained skeptical.

Now? My whole family loves it, and I strongly recommend you watch it with or without little ones. Oh, the kids love it when Snoopy the World War I flying ace saves his beloved Fifi, and Bo enjoys all the tightly executed homages to the beloved Charlie Brown Christmas, but I see something else: I see the journey of a writer.

No, not Snoopy (though he’s quite the author with his typewriter!). Charlie Brown.

He’s the odd one out, the one never really understood by others. He keeps trying to succeed with his passions such as kite-flying, but just. Can’t. Do it. The same old obstacles, like the kite-eating tree, snatch his hope away. He’s scoffed and ridiculed by his peers. When a new kid–the little red-haired girl, no less!–moves onto his street, he is awestruck. All he wants is a chance to show her the real him, the Charlie Brown no one else sees.

“Charlie Brown is not a quitter.” -Charlie Brown

How many of us have felt misunderstood, simply labeled and discarded as hopeless cases? How many of us come down with “a serious case of inadequacy,” as Charlie Brown puts it?

He tries different things to impress her: he prepares a magic act, only to give up his chance so he can help his sister Sally instead. He learns to dance for the winter dance competition, only to slip and set off the sprinkler system. He spends the weekend reading War and Peace and writing a book report for their team grade only to watch his paper get shredded by a toy.

Time, and time, and time again he gives his all and gets nothing in return. Even the star he wishes on falls from the sky. All he can count on is his dog, who remains loyal and loving no matter the disaster. (Dyane, I can’t help but think of you and Lucy!)

When I hear Christophe Beck‘s piano melody for Charlie Brown’s moments of defeat, I’m on the verge of tears, especially here, during his school assembly.

And yet, despite all the hopelessness, Charlie Brown dreams on. He sees the success of another kid’s kite-flying attempt, and hopes for his own. Don’t we have those moments as writers, too?

Then, out of beyond-nowhere, the little red-haired girl wants to be his summer penpal. His. Charlie Brown’s. All he’s been through, all he was ready to give up on, and…and he didn’t even DO anything this time! Why, why now? She tells him: she had watched him and all he went through over the year, and felt him a friend worth knowing.

How many of us have reached out with words, and wanted nothing more than to feel a reader’s hand find ours?

Perhaps you’ve been feeling nothing more than the football pulled out from under you. That the world has deemed you a failure because:

“You’re Charlie Brown, that’s why!” -Lucy Van Pelt

Well, guess what? Charlie Brown may be gullible enough to still run for Lucy’s football, but he’s also a thoughtful, kind, and giving person who never gives up, no matter how many kites he loses. He dreams of a chance to meet someone who can see him for all he is and could be, not just his failures and shortcomings.

Dream big, fellow writers. Charlie Brown is worth knowing. So are you.

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42 thoughts on “Lesson Learned from Charlie Brown: Dream Big.

  1. Very brave. It is an easy thing to hide away. You plainly have chosen the braver route and I…no we…my Shirley and I…no that whatever the outcome will seem to be on the day, you will end up, for a galaxy of sound reasons, the winner.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, this post really resonates with me today as I’m recovering from quite a big funk. I had that exact feeling as a writer that maybe no one was reading my work, well five people at the most. Luckily I’ve managed to shake it off. I think when you get to that low point, it’s always a sign that you will start bouncing back. Thanks for sharing Charlie Brown’s story with us. I’m going to have to check out that movie.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m so glad I posted this today, then! Yes, do watch the movie. It gets me every time…that, and Snoopy is delightfully hilarious. Spoiler alert: He even chucks the typewriter at Lucy at one point. Think you’ll appreciate that moment–I ALWAYS do. 🙂 xxx

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    • Carolee Croft we talked of this remember? I read your work and I love your work. Even if one person only reads your work you do it for them. I was just thinking there of years back being in this play and the second night there were more folks in the cast than in the audience. The cast held a pow wow about doing this gruelling 3 hour performance for like 8 folk and whether we should just arrange a refund of their money. The next night, we already knew from ticket receipts, wasn’t any better. Anyway one person stood up against the rest of us and said it doesn’t matter if there is only one person out there, that person came to see this, to see us, so we do it and we do our bests and we do tomorrow night too, as if there’s hundreds out there, end of. So we did and you know, see by the end of that week, we were turning people away.
      So you kick the ass of this black dog. xxxxxxxxx

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      • That’s a great story, Shey! Thanks for being so supportive. Don’t worry, I’m getting back in the groove. I just had a bit of a tough week there for a while. Things are kind of shaky economically, and most of my family and friends are wondering when I’ll stop messing around and get a “real job”. I’m just going to have to hang in there and wait for that audience to grow like you said, my dear. xxxxxxxxxxx

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      • Gosh, that sounds familiar. I’m barely able to be here and writing and teaching part-time. When the boys are old enough for school all day, there will be some tough decisions to make…

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      • Well I am ashamed to say that that night I had had enough. I was young etc. Also we were performing in the middle of nowhere and it was peeing rain. But we went out there. The saddest thing was that the man who stood up that night and was young, died a few years later but I tell you this he also said ‘I don’t know about you lot, but I am here to do this. I will do it on my own if need be.’ I have never forgotten that lesson in my life. Now I will give you some on kidx school and writing in a mo xxxx

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      • I don’t blame you. When those on stage outnumber the crowd…I’ve been in such a show, myself, and it just takes the wind out of you every time you step out there. Sounds like your fellow actor’s light burned brightest on that stage.

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      • Now Carolee Croft, my whole life has been spent on an economic precipice. I have done every job going..sort of.. I lost my home when my Mr took ill. But don’t feel sorry for me cos I got another one and it is prob where I am meant to be. Hell, it needed put on its feet. I felt its whisper that day. It is now on its feet. I have had many members of my family ask me when I would get a real job when I was running a successful business. working god knows how many hours a week. An awful lot of folks don’t think you do a damned thing unless it is nine to five, what do you earn etc? Stuff them. Do your thing your way and if it means you do whatever to pay the rent, secure the basics. you do that too. Don’t ever ;let anyone tell you, you are messing about. It’s your dream. If you have to find other ways to dream it ok but never let it go xxxxx

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      • Now then Jean, I guess you know what is coming if you read what I said to Carolee. You need to do what makes you happy obvi within reason. I recently said this same old to another blogger mum, the minute both my girls went to school I had everyone asking me, my mum etc, when I was going back to work. I had never not worked. I have never had that luxury. I worked from my home and I found it a total joke that was not recognised when I was working hours round my children. It just wasn’t nine to five. But I was also writing and selling comic scripts in the wee small hours, Not my main line of work but hey. I also think it is about quality of life, not money–ok starving in the gutter is another thing but I am sure you get me on this– it is about quality for a family cos I have also done the working full time with a young child etc. IT is about quality for you. And there is middle ground on that. xxxx

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      • Yes. YES. Even with teaching from home, there’s this impression that I need only, like, half an hour to apparently do that job. For a while Bo didn’t understand why I couldn’t work full-time from home, teaching over a hundred students, while handling the kids.
        Thankfully he knows better now….about that, and about how important writing is to me. Took him a while, ahem, but he gets it now.
        The partner in one’s corner–that makes all the difference, doesn’t it?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lol, I’m just me, nothing special. If your partner is in your corner the battle is won. The hell with what anyone else thinks or says. I still do a little private teaching. I used to teach a ton of folks and you could pick straight off the kids whose parents were both working full time. You know these were also the kids who most needed someone to just sit down and listen to them. You have to work as a family what is best for every member and their needs, not work every hour going to worship the money god x

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  3. First off, thanks for the shout-out to me and Lucy, my lovely Rocket-Fueled ☕️ one! 😜

    (I’m sending you another pound soon – the Coffeol Roasting Company’s owner Emerson is so awesome he doesn’t even charge me shipping; he’s a true Java King! 👑)

    ANYWAY….this is a fascinating, incredible post. How fun to see the image, too – I didn’t expect to see you write about this subject matter! 😊 You’re keeping it fresh, my brilliant scribe. And I know my girls & Craig, yes, Craig, would love this movie. I bet I will too now that I have a whole new appreciation for the storyline.

    Children’s friendships. What a slippery slope. Within the past 4 months my sensitive, tender, traumatized daughter has had awful experiences with two “friends” who turned on her in ways I could never imagine. The two ten-year-olds she thought were her friends did all kinds of crazy 😱 (you know I don’t use that word lightly, especially in reference to a child) things to Avonlea that made this INCREDIBLY confrontation-phobic mom call the dean a couple weeks ago to address the “friendship” #2. The dean surprised me by suggesting that nothing be done because it would “stir things up” – maybe she’s right, but I told her if more crazy crap occurs, I’m going straight back to her. She understood. But hmm, if this happened to her child, I wonder if she would follow her own advice.

    Avi could do well with a friend like Charlie Brown – that is what I fervently wish for her.

    I’ll rent “The Peanuts Movie” DVD to take with us on Christmas vacation, and I know we’ll enjoy it – thanks to YOU yet again for broadening my horizons.

    And here’s the understatement of 2016:

    I can’t tell you how much I want you to have reconciliation and healing with your family.

    lots of love now & always, my caffeinated kindred spirit,
    SpyDy
    🔭

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yowza, Dy, I’m so sorry about what’s going on with your daughter. You know, I’ve been kinda paranoid about American education–what with kids about to enter it–and have been reading Charlie Sykes’ scathing studies on our schools. FAIL U. is his latest, and it really hits hard on universities and how screwed up their priorities are. (Kids don’t need to learn basic history–they need their own saunas!) I’m not reading DUMBING DOWN OUR KIDS, which was written in the mid-90s but is still really relevant today. What you describe here with the principle sounds a lot like what parents were already dealing with in the 90s–no, we can’t discipline the student because that’ll upset their self-esteem, and school is ALL about self-esteem. They couldn’t even discipline teachers because “they’d be upset.” It is SOOOOOOO ridiculous, Dy. You know, maybe don’t read it–I think you’d get pretty mad. I want to use it all for research for that book proposal I was telling you about earlier, because one aspect of the story is how mediocrity is celebrated and rewarded while any talent is a sure guarantee of demise.
      So. I hope Avonlea weathers the storm, for school is just that, especially with such nasty people posing as friends.
      And thank you for the love (and beans!). It’s…tough. But I know that with support from kindred spirits like you, I WILL get through. xxxxx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so grateful you don’t give up, Jean. You touch my hearts with your stories – sometimes profoundly sad, or deeply reflective, or poignant. And sometimes about movies or music that weave magic. Touching hearts may not bring public acclaim, but that’s not all it’s made out to be, as I hope Charlie Brown someday realizes. I think inspiring others is the most important thing we can do. And you do it so well! ❤

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    • Thank you so, so much, Carol. I bet your granddaughter would enjoy it with you, if you cared to watch it. I still cry every time it’s on, but the mix of piano and tears and children’s laughter and Snoopy’s antics and the swell of orchestral hope and Charlie Brown’s endless determination–it was an unexpected emotional roller coaster the first time, but like any carnival ride I can get on now and know what to expect. xxxx

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  5. How do you manage to reduce me to tears with everything you write, Jean. This is me sending you a virtual hug. Just like water eventually beats rock, 💦 hope eclipses fear. ❤️(Also maybe it’s time to draw a few boundaries with the church!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can tell you right now that THE PEANUTS MOVIE gets my waterworks going every time. 🙂
      Yes, hope does eclipse fear. It doesn’t always seem like it, but it’s true.
      DON’T GET ME STARTED ABOUT CHURCH. Well, I mean, I’m the one that brought it up, but recent events (far too piddly to write about, honestly) just make me want to bang my head in the wall, or tear my hair out, or hire some professional mourners to hang out around my house. Bah!

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  6. Dream big, and you won’t regret it. Everything will work out money wise, because we don’t really need too much, and when we need some more, we somehow get it too 🙂 Have trust in life, the most talented wonderful Lady! 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Lessons Learned from Agatha Christie: How Much Stock Should One Put Into a Title? | Jean Lee's World

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