I had a little free time last weekend and chose to spend it in a classic American fashion: Going to the movies. Fortunately enough for me a great film was opening that weekend: The Peanuts Movie.
Warning: This post may contain spoilers for The Peanuts Movie.
The Peanuts Movie called back on all the nostalgia of the various other Peanuts specials that have aired over the years. It had the joy, energy, and humor we needed.
Created by Charles Shultz, Charlie Brown is among the most recognizable comic strip characters of all time, with his yellow shirt, hair curl, and horrible fast ball. His insecurities are also legendary. His chronic worry is being a failure at everything.
In the film Charlie Brown gets a new neighbor, a little Red-Haired girl. Young Brown determines to get a fresh start with this girl, not to be viewed by her as a failure, like the rest of the kids, but as a success.
As usual he consults Lucy, his psychiatrist, who gives him a book on how to be a winner. Charlie Brown puts his nose to the grindstone and takes every chance to prove his true worth.
Through the movie Charlie Brown has chances to be a winner, but inevitably he sacrifices them for others, or to do the right thing.
Here are four lessons to learn from Charlie Brown.
- He’s Making an Effort – Most people, when faced with a challenge, will go around it rather than through it. Charlie Brown doesn’t simply wistfully want things to be different. He actively tries to be a better person, to not be viewed as a failure.
- He Takes Chances – Admittedly he doesn’t take the ultimate chance of actually talking to the little Red-Haired girl until the end, but he does take every other chance that comes his way to prove himself. He learns how to dance for the school winter dance. He learns magic for the talent show. No matter what people say about him being a failure, he still takes the chances that come.
- He Does What’s Right – Twice he has the chance to be the hero, but twice he gives it up because he chooses to do the right thing. He gives up his magic act to help his sister, and a makes her act a success. When about to be presented with an award for his grades, he admits the test belonged to Peppermint Patty when he realizes it belonged to her.
- He Doesn’t Give Up – Though he repeatedly fails at things, though his kites are always eaten, though his attempts to impress the little Red-Haired girl don’t go according to plan, Charlie Brown doesn’t quit. He doesn’t give up.
Charlie Brown has his insecurities, just like the rest of us. I find that it’s part of what makes him relatable as a character. We have all had our moments where the football was pulled out from under us, or our kite was caught in the tree, those are the realities of life.
Whatever Charlie Brown may be, a failure he is not, despite what his friends may say. A failure gives up when difficulties come, when the task is too hard for success. Charlie Brown tries again, and again, even if his last attempt was deemed “a disaster.”
The next time you face the choice of trying again or walking away, ask yourself, “Do I have the character of Charlie Brown?”