As most everybody who knows me remotely well is aware, I am a fan of the Muppets. It's true. I specialize in random, useless facts, and the Muppets are just some creations about which I know quite a bit. My friend Jay told me the other day that I ought to write a book about Muppets. He even gave me a possible title, but quite frankly I can't remember what it is. That's all right. It was enough to inspire me to make the following decision. I won't be publishing (or writing, for that matter) a book about the Muppets, but I intend, tongue slightly in cheek, to write a Muppets series in my blog. Each post will focus on a specific Muppet and a chief lesson we can learn from him or her. (mainly him, because i can only think of two female muppets.) I may interrupt this Muppet series with posts about my actual life, but for now, I'm being silly and taking a risk, which brings us to the first Muppet I would like to focus on ...
The Great Gonzo. (also known as Gonzo the Great)
Whether he's dancing a flamenco with a cheese or demolishing an automobile to the music of The Anvil Chorus, Gonzo's a true original. A daredevil. An artist. And he wears that hat proudly. Gonzo takes plenty of risks, despite audience and fellow-Muppet discouragement. When someone is needed to take a waterski jump through a ring of fire, Gonzo is your Whatever. Gonzo should be the patron saint of Ridiculous Endeavors, but here's the important ingredient in his mania: he's not afraid. No, sir. He doesn't let the tide of antagonism stop him from wondering about and trying out the impossible. As he ponders in a hot air balloon at the beginning of The Great Muppet Caper, "I'd like to try it without the balloon." (to which kermit humorously and realistically observes, "What? Plummeting? I suppose you could try it once.")
But not only does he try out these outrageous tricks and trades, he has the integrity to believe in and stick to them, rather than letting the opposition turn him into a sheep. He enthusiastically yells to those nay-sayers, "Yokels! Rubes! What do you know about great art?" He takes pride in his work, albeit in his own bizarre way of going about it. "Photography's an art. You gotta have the right film, you gotta have the right exposure, and you gotta scream just before they get the food to their mouth." (photography, by the way, is probably the most normal hobby gonzo ever participated in.)
Our lovable, furry Whatever teaches us that no matter our dream, no matter the road we take to get there, even if it's all the way to Bombay to become a movie star, it's worth the risks and we should take joy in the adventure, just as Gonzo takes joy in death-defying stunts and off-kilter performance art.
"Now most of all I know that I am happy to be me." -Gonzo the Great, The Wishing Song