I used to love reading the Sunday funnies. Blondie and Dagwood, Beetle Bailey, Prince Valiant – and of course, Peanuts. Snoopy was my favorite. Unlike all the “human” cartoon personalities whose speeches leapt from their mouths toward the familiar triangle into a circle above their heads, Snoopy had a thought bubble. Remember?
The beauty of Snoopy’s thought bubble was that we were allowed insight into his wise observations and dry humor regarding life, the humans he both loved and tolerated and what adventures were truly brewing from atop and within the doghouse (“Here’s Joe Cool hanging around the student union”). The reader of Peanuts got to know more about Snoopy’s heart and mind than his fellow comic strip characters, thanks to that amazing thought bubble, and we were completely devoted to Snoopy as a result.
I’m thinking that it would be a handy tool if each of us could have our own thought bubble to use every so often. It could be a “for owner’s eyes only” bubble. We would unfold it from our pockets or purses, float it up over our heads, and before words actually issue from our mouths, we could look to our thought bubble for a written preview of what everyone around us is about to hear.
Regular practice with one’s “T.B.” might result in re-thinking, re-viewing and revising the soon-to-be-spoken words so that, in time – one would learn to be more intentional and have greater clarity. By literally thinking before speaking, we might exercise being gracefully honest, being witty without doing harm, intelligent without condescension, precise yet not sharp, and observant without being judgmental.
Using a “T.B.” could also remind us who our audience is. Snoopy’s thoughts were meaningful to oldsters, delightful to youngsters and offensive to none. What would it be like if we really paid attention to who is listening? How many times have you wished you could un-say those poorly chosen words that were overheard by children, tossed out haphazardly in a social or work setting or hastily thrown toward a loved one?
Snoopy once thought,”My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I’m Happy. I can’t figure it out. What am I doing right?” Maybe his thought bubble had something to with it. Maybe we should all pretend we have one operating and see if it makes us happier, too.