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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Gopher Approved!


I am very excited! Today I got a Facebook Direct Message from one of my favorite people, Goldy the Gopher! Now, his exact words are something I am going to keep private, because you don’t just share conversations with your friends with the whole world without getting their approval first, but the gist was this – he liked my post!

I think that it is probably important to note that Goldy, in spite of being a wonderful and magical being, is one Gopher. Yes, he represents the University of Minnesota, but he doesn’t necessarily have the right to legally speak for them. This is probably why Goldy is a Gopher of few words so much of the time.

This message from him, though, got me to thinking about a couple of things. One of them is the nature of enthusiasm. I am a self-described Goldy lover. I have met other individuals like him before – Mickey Mouse being one of the most famous – and I hope to meet still others, TC Bear and Nordy being at the top of the list. Regardless of who I meet, though, Goldy will always be my first mascot love.

Now, surely, this is silly, this attachment I have to a 5’13 Gopher. Some say unnatural, some others call it (and me) childish. To them I say… well, not much. There really isn’t much point. If you don’t “get it” you just don’t get it, and that’s really more sad than anything else. Yes, I am a grown woman and, for the most part, I have put away “childish things”. I won’t ever put them all away, though, because once you give up something like wonder, it is awfully hard to get it back. Once you give in to the idea that enthusiasm isn’t cool or mature then you become less brave.

And Gretchen Rubin is right – enthusiasm takes courage. Any time you get excited about something it makes it easy for someone else to come along and know exactly where to jab to hurt you. Also, when you are enthusiastic, you give your whole self to something. Enthusiasm is not for the commitment-phobic. When you are enthusiastic you open yourself and your ideas up to criticism, and that is not for the faint hearted. Enthusiasm requires energy, too, because it requires you to go all-in on a thing, and that can take a lot of work – certainly more work than just saying “meh” and doing the bare minimum to get through the day.

There are a thousand ways that enthusiasm requires courage, but I think that it is an awful lot like happiness – you have to choose to be brave, do the work, and risk that other people might try to knock you down. Actually, no, never mind. Enthusiasm isn’t a lot like happiness, it is a form of it. All of the previous remains true, you need to be brave, hardworking, and ready to face the naysayers but, in the end, it is worth it because it can bring so much joy and positivity to yourself and others.

I can think of no good reason to give that up just because I grew up.

In fact, it is because I am an adult that I have a better understanding what true magic can be. Like with Goldy, it’s not about which one of his friends is helping him out, it’s about the fact that they ARE helping him out. Helping us all out so that we can feel something pure and sweet. Magic, in some ways, is like science – just because you know the mechanics of how something is done or comes to be doesn’t mean that it is any less wondrous. In fact, sometimes knowing is what inspires your awe.



That brings me to the second thing that Goldy’s message led me to think about… all of the things that happen to make Goldy into what he is. All of the dedication, hard work, and even love that his friends put in. (I called them “helpers” in my last blog, Goldy called them “friends” in his message, I both defer to him and prefer his characterization.) Goldy is a complex Gopher, he goes to so many events, is involved in so many different things, has active accounts on Twitter and Facebook, and even takes the time to answer me. That is so much work. There are so many moving parts. As an adult I understand how this is done, Goldy has MANY friends and they work EXTREMELY hard, but I am still in awe of what makes them do it. The amount of commitment and love involved is awe inspiring.

What all of that makes me think is this: They do that all without being noticed or seen because they know that would undermine their mission. They do it to make other people’s lives a little better. That is a beautiful thing. 

Think about the selflessness that is involved in being part of something like that. Doing something good and kind because you care that much about other people. Think about how much better a place the world would be if we all tried to do that more often. I challenge you to do even one kind and selfless thing a day, large or small, just because doing so makes the world a little better place.

Similarly, think about all of the people around you who do things that you take for granted every day. Think about all of the things that make your life run smoother and more safely because someone else did their job. Think about the person who chose to stand instead of sit on public transit because they knew that more people were going to be boarding and they would want or need seats. Think about the kind word you overheard from one person to another. Think about the chores that were done by your family member or roommate. Notice when someone holds the door for someone else. Think about the people serving their country – both military and diplomatic personnel. Think about people who work to fight disease, assist refugees, and bring clean water to the many people without. Think about the neighbor who cleared your sidewalk of snow. Think about the barista who made an effort to smile and get your name right. Think about your friend who is there to comfort you when you are sad and celebrate with you when you are happy.

Think about everyone who tries to do their best and be kind every day. Do it for them, because they deserve to be appreciated, and do it for yourself because you deserve to know that there are so many people out there who really are making the world you live in a better place. Try to thank them, too, because they deserve it and because it is the kind thing to do.

I’ll start: To all of Goldy’s friends, thank you for what you do. I may not know who all of you are, but I have a pretty good idea of what you do. I understand that there is an incredible amount of work and coordination involved. I understand that you do it carefully so as to never take away from the magical experience. Every one of you who does anything to help make sure Goldy is able to be who he is and do what he does, I appreciate you. Thank you, and good job.


I think that it is pretty safe to say that this message is Gopher Approved.




Who would you like to thank? Feel free to use the comment’s section at the end of this post or on the Facebook Page if you would like to do it publicly. I also wouldn’t mind at all if you shared this post with your networks – it can count as your one kind thing for the day. J

Today’s photos came from Goldy Gopher’s webpage.

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