It is February, and blogosphere is deluged by the posts on #ComicsFebruary. After I read quite a few colourful, interesting blogs, I rummaged my stash to find out if I had comics. To my dismay, I realised that I have just three, and I have read all of them.
Since I am on a self-imposed book-buying-ban, I chose not to visit a bookstore, or hunt for comics on Amazon. (Yaay! I resisted the urge.)
Necessity seems to have disciplined the spendthrift in me, and in that process, it has subtly made me adopt a beautiful habit — rereading my favourite books.
I reread Patrick McDonnell’s South, The Gift of Nothing, and Guardians of Being this week. McDonnell is the creator of thoughtful, heartwarming comic strips called Mutt. The strips, which appeal to readers of all ages, feature Earl (a dog), Mooch (a cat), and their humans Ozzie, Millie, and Frank.
I regularly read McDonnell’s comics because I am an ardent animal-lover, and his uncluttered comics brim with love, and humanity. Natually, loads and loads of intelligent animals. On many occasions, the comics have also made me sad, only because I cannot hug Earl, or pet Mooch. Although they are a part of my life, I so wish they could walk out of the boxes in the strips, and I could bask in their awesomeness. Sigh!
According to their official website, Earl, “based on Patrick’s own dog, the small mutt with a big heart cheerfully tugs at the leash on the walk of life,” and Mooch, “the tuxedo kitty is Earl’s feline pal. He has his own way of thinking and talking (“Yesh!”), and loves Little Pink Sock.”
The Gift of Nothing features both of them. For a special day, Mooch wants to get Earl something. But, Earl is a happy dog, who is gifted with many a nice thing in life. Lovely bowl, cosy bed, cute squeaky toy, and humans who adore him. So, poor Mooch is confused. What does one get someone who has everything?
And, it occurs to Mooch that he should get ‘nothing’ for Earl. Where will he go to buy ‘nothing’? Millie, the endearing granny, complains that one particular shop has nothing to buy, and Mooch overhears her. He visits the shop, but he cannot find ‘nothing’. So, how does he cope with the predicament? Even if he does, will Earl like ‘nothing’?
McDonnell didn’t disappoint me. The book, which is just about 20-pages long, is incredibly satisfying.
South is a simple, delightful tale on friendship, trust, and compassion. As the last of autumn leaves falls, a little bird realises that he was sound asleep, and that his friends have flown south without him/her. (The book has no words.) As the birdie bawls, Mooch offers to help the bird reunite with its friends, and they set off together on feet. They cross many cities, and woods, and on the way Mooch dozes off for a long time, making the little bird sob again out of fear. Mooch gathers himself again, holds the bird’s wings, and keeps walking; it’s a lovely sight. Of course, everything ends well, and Mooch purrs forever.
McDonnell worked along with Eckhart Tolle to create Guardians of Being. In the book — this one is considerably longer than the other books — McDonnell’s illustrations are coupled with Tolle’s uplifting thoughts and words.
Together, McDonnell and Tolle, present a list of inspiring things that humans can learn by observing nature and animals, and by sharing their roof with them. The book offers a convincing argument on how animals gently steer their humans toward stillness, and being. Tolle and McDonnell say, walk your dog, and let yourself heal. Watch your cat slip into a slumber, and unknowingly you end up slowing down time. Breathe, sit amidst trees, and do nothing. I reckon that many such tiny advices have the power to transform one’s life.
Guardians of Being is one of my most favourite books. If you are an animal-lover, or know someone who loves animals, these books are for you all.