I keep thinking about the smurfs.
I’m not really sure why they actually became as popular as they did. The show was confusing, at best, and irritating, at worst (I’m infinitely amazed by my younger self’s ability to listen to their cheery la la laaaa song over and over again without wanting to stab the world) and didn’t exactly have a plot so much as it had Gargamel wanting to be the biggest prick in the universe. I was never sure if he wanted to eat the smurfs, or possibly turn them into gold and then eat them, or what. They were a communist group, and Smurfette’s role in their society tends to get creepy if you think about it too hard.
What do you think it would have been like, being four inches tall, pursued by a balding, monk-man and living in an utopian mushroom house society?
Oh good lord, I made the mistake of looking up the smurfs on Wikipedia. Did you know Gargamel created Smurfette out of clay to cause havoc in the all-male smurf village? But see, she was too ugly, so Papa Smurf performed “plastic smurfery” on her… No seriously. I can’t make this up.
I found myself thinking about the smurfs this week, a franchise I haven’t thought about since I was six. Okay, maybe that’s not true. I acknowledged the new, CGI smurfs long enough to point and say “why is this a thing?” before going back to ignoring the little blue men again. I started to think back to those episodes, about how they lived and interacted, when Gargamel had yet to come up with another doomed to fail plot. Everyone had their place, and everyone knew what to expect out of their neighbors. Baker Smurf never did anything more than baking, and Brainy Smurf would endlessly seek out knowledge. Jokey Smurf was the town crazy, and Painter Smurf would paint his highly prized artwork.
It sounds… nice, doesn’t it? To know what you’re supposed to be doing? To always have a role in this crazy, ever changing world? What do you think would happen if, say, Farmer Smurf ever croaked and made his way to smurf heaven? Would the next smurf born be given his old monicker and thrown into the fields with a pitchfork and snail of burden? Society must move on, after all.
What would that be like? To be told from day one that you’re a farmer, and if you don’t like it you are more than welcome to shut up and get back to farming?
Of course, this is Hannah Barbarra we’re talking about. They never really went into the class politics, there. Instead, we see that each named smurf loves their given role. But what about the unfortunate ones? How much would it suck to be known as Clumsy Smurf, or Grouchy Smurf? Did Clumsy Smurf just trip one day, and was forever christened as the clumsiest laughingstock to ever smurf the earth? And did Grouchy Smurf just start out having a really, really bad day, and then the name just stuck?
Would you continue to be grouchy just so your name made sense? Just to try to fit into a role you never wanted to fit into in the first place?
… This isn’t the post I wanted to write tonight. The last three months have been a bit… weird. I realized I was trying to fit into a role that I didn’t enjoy filling, and left it all behind. For the first time in six years, I don’t have a weird title. I’m no longer Editor Tophat, but instead, just Tophat. I wonder how the smurfs would have reacted to something like that. To have your long existing role stripped away, to realize that despite how unhappy it made you, it actually helped to justify your existence.
Depression’s weird like that. If you’re not careful, you could find yourself in a bit of a Stockholm Syndrome with it. On one hand, you’re completely miserable, but on the other hand, you’re supposed to be completely miserable, so it all works out. Circular logic is depression’s best friend, and it’s utterly and completely wrong. Luckily, somewhere along the line, something inside me snapped and I ran from that shit as fast as I could.
It’s been… interesting.
I’m no longer a mediocre journalist. I’m no longer a journalist of any kind. Today, I’m just myself, someone I haven’t really been able to be in a very, very long time.
I’m not sure where I’m going to head from here. I have absolutely no plans concerning the future, and I can’t seem to get over this feeling of relief that I am not a smurf. Despite feeling like I was trapped in a role I hated, there always was a way out. Sometimes you have to make some tough decisions and some major compromises before you can honestly say tomorrow will get better.
And let’s be honest here, guys… we all deserve a better tomorrow. Even if you don’t feel like you do, you really do. Well, okay, maybe you don’t deserve a better tomorrow if you’re a serial dolphin stabber or something, but you get the idea. Clawing back up from a pit of depression will take some work, but I’ve never been one to give up that easily. I’ve got way too much silliness left in me to fail now.
Heh, what if they named some poor guy Dolphin Stabber Smurf? Given the size difference, his job would be terrifying.
Anyway, I’m glad for the opportunity to work in the news industry. I’ve made a lot of good friends, from Enosh and Chicabonita, who tried so desperately to make me interact with the world around me, to Seatam, who would sent me care packages when I got into some pretty spectacular funks over that last year. To my coworkers, who were, for many years, my only social interaction. In a lot of ways, we were comrades-in-arms in an industry that was crumbling around our ears, fighting to educate a community that no longer cared to be educated.
And, of course, to Megs, who taught me that sometimes you need to throw the dice and take a chance. That life should be spent following your heart, and to hell with the consequences. It’s not whether you win or lose so long as you learn from your mistakes and work toward being a better person. (She also taught me how to break electronics faster than a tornado filled with magnets. The girl has a knack.) Without Megs, I may not have had the courage to do what I needed to do.
I owe you all more that I can ever convey, especially with my outer shell of cynicism and sarcasm. If I drank alcohol, I’d raise my glass to you. Instead, I’ll just lamely say “thanks” instead. So… thanks.
To all of you out there who feel trapped, please just remember that you do deserve that better tomorrow, if you’re willing to toss the dice. We’re not smurfs. We’re blissfully, terrifyingly free. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.