My Inspiration: Bill Watterson

Here’s someone who deeply inspires me when it comes to how I view things in life: Bill Watterson. For those who don’t recognised his name, this is the person who created Calvin & Hobbes, a comic strip about a mischievous 6-year-old and his stuffed tiger. While retired for 18 years, his works still appear in tonnes of newspapers.

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What one needs to know about this comic is the fact that it embodied the joy of childhood, the hardship a child goes through, the power of imagination and beautiful artwork. Not many artist managed to replicate that. Then, after 10 years (1985 – 1995) of producing and imagining Calvin & Hobbes, Watterson decided to call it quits.

His reasoning is very simple: it is better to leave the party early than drag it on for hours. Think about it. If he were to continue his strips for another 10 more years, will it still be celebrated? People are creatures who gets bored easily. With his retirement from this, it allowed young talents to enter the market. Furthermore, the number of new creative thinkers he inspired are a lot. One of it is my all-time favourite Zen Pencils. This cartoonist even did a tribute to Bill Watterson.

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So here’s the thing, you can go read up about all the hardships Watterson went through while being an artist but all I want to highlight is his thoughts about pursuing something for the sake of your own and nothing else.

First off, just let this into your mind: How often do you find yourself looking for success? Many times, correct? As you move forward and achieve the impossible in your mind, there will always be that one achievement you missed. But is it really your own desire? You already climbed the non-existent ladder of success but people kept pushing you to fill that full cup. We are forever being pushed to do better and never be satisfied.

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If we don’t discover what we want for ourselves, we will never be contented. Why limit to just one view, which is success? A person who works late at night because he or she loves the job is considered a workaholic. Your friend who does something different out of the norm is called weird. This is the life we are currently living. Most of us find people telling us to get an enviable job to achieve financial stability. If you find yourself coming home complaining about that job, how does this makes you happy? When was the last time you did something that reflects your true values while satisfying your inner self?

Additionally, people who journeyed on a different route have one thing in mind: overnight success. In my opinion, this is ridiculous and most of the time, people who got this success just accidentally stumbled upon Lady Luck. The sad truth is Lady Luck rarely appears. If one never take time to cultivate their work, they will find themselves back at the same spot.

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Nonetheless, I am not saying I am that happy person. Just to invent my own meaning of life proved to be a very difficult task. Difficult, but not impossible. Here’s one thing that I keep deep in my heart and at the same time share to many people: it is better to have 1,000 interests than have to only have one. In those 1,000 interests, many will fail but those that doesn’t means you can follow and nurture it. At the end of the day, it is not the money and fame that counts; it is the joys in the work and life.

I would like to end this by quoting a speech Watterson gave at Kenyon College, Gambier Ohio, to the 1990 graduating class.

“The truth is, most of us discover where we are headed when we arrive. At that time, we turn around and say, yes, this is obviously where I was going all along. It’s a good idea to try to enjoy the scenery on the detours, because you’ll probably take a few.

“I still haven’t drawn the strip as long as it took me to get the job. To endure five years of rejection to get a job requires either a faith in oneself that borders on delusion, or a love of the work. I loved the work.”

P.S. Recently, mental_floss magazine managed to snagged an interview with Bill Watterson and you can read part of the interview here.