Adversity & the Muppets

12/21/2011 – It‭’‬s a State of Mind:‭  ‬Lessons on Overcoming Adversity from the Muppets‭!  ‬Yep,‭ ‬those Muppets‭!

                        “They‭’‬re not quite mops,‭ ‬they‭’‬re not quite puppets but man are they funny.‭”‬  -‭ ‬Homer Jay Simpson.

‭Like many people from my generation,‭ ‬I grew up adoring the Muppets.‭  ‬They were cute,‭ ‬they were funny,‭ ‬and they could put together one heck of a variety show.‭  ‬The celebrity guests were a really cool bonus.‭

Every Holiday season my wife and I rewatch many childhood classics:‭ ‬among them are a Muppet Christmas Carol and a Muppet Christmas.‭  ‬Both are awesome in their own way and for us,‭ ‬anyway,‭ ‬have a rewatchable charm that many childhood films do not.‭  ‬But alas,‭ ‬this is not a film review.‭  ‬There are tons of those out there and I am by no means an expert on these awesome creations.‭  ‬No,‭ ‬this is a brief review of Muppetism.‭ ‬A simple but powerful ideology that (in my opinion) stresses four principles:‭ ‬Teamwork,‭ ‬Diversity,‭ ‬Fun and Attitude.

Let us begin.

  • Teamwork.‭  ‬The Muppets face many challenges from things going wrong backstage,‭ ‬to celebrities or performers not being around when needed,‭ ‬to tyrannical billionaires trying‭ ‬to‭ ‬buy and demolish their old theatre because it sits on large oil reserves.‭   ‬Not only do they work as a team to achieve the common goal but they are‭ ‬ultra-supportive.‭  ‬Fozzy‭’‬s comedic routines don‭’‬t always go well but they keep giving him shot after shot.‭    ‬No matter what the problem is,‭ ‬the Muppets always find a way to come together and overcome their challenges as a cohesive unit.‭ ‬Sure they have their tiffs and disagreements but they always pull through in the end.‭   ‬This is partially a byproduct of the next principle:’
  • Diversity.‭  ‬Pigs loving frogs,‭ ‬international culinary experts,‭ ‬intellectual‭ ‬athletes,‭ ‬biracial general managers,‭ ‬wise-cracking rats,‭ ‬whatever the heck Gonzo is and so on and so forth.‭  ‬They all look‭ ‬different‭;‬ have different backgrounds,‭ ‬and different motives.‭  ‬None of that matters though because they accept each other for who and what they are.‭  ‬There is no better metaphor for this than the Muppet band led by Rolph.‭   ‬I mean look at them‭ (‬see photo below‭) ‬if that‭’‬s not‭ ‬a diverse group of people I don‭’‬t know what is.‭  ‬The best part is,‭ ‬these‭ ‬“different‭”‬ people come together and make some of the catchiest and sweetest music this side of Muppetdom‭!

  • Fun.‭  ‬Life is tense and full of twists and turns.‭  ‬Sadly,‭ ‬bad things do happen to good people but one of the keys to keeping our sanity and persevering is keeping a sense of humor.‭  ‬This is what I love about the Muppets:‭ ‬they always find ways to have fun.‭  ‬They don‭’‬t take themselves too seriously even when you think that they should.‭  ‬You have to be able to laugh some things off or at least escape into a world that gives you a good chuckle.‭  ‬The Muppets have turned this into a fine art.‭  ‬Let us learn from their frolicking wisdom.
  • Attitude.‭ ‬This is the most important aspect‭ ‬of Muppetism.‭  ‬I read an interview with Jason Segel on how he came to be the driving force behind the recent Muppet movie.‭  ‬At one point in the article,‭ ‬Jason was asked what challenges did he have in writing for the Muppets.‭  ‬One part of his answer really stuck with me.‭   ‬Segel stated that certain jokes had to be rewritten because they made reference to the Muppets not being real.‭   ‬Although the Muppets break the fourth wall and poke fun at their shtick,‭ ‬the one thing they never do is refer to themselves as puppets,‭ ‬made of felt etc.‭  ‬Their mindset is that they are a frog,‭ ‬a dog,‭ ‬an eagle etc.‭   ‬When you request an interview with Kermit,‭ ‬you are in fact interviewing Kermit and not his puppeteer.‭

What a great metaphor‭!  ‬One of my core values is that‭ ‬“disability‭”‬ is a state of mind,‭ ‬and not a diagnosis.‭   ‬Much like a Muppet,‭ ‬I don‭’‬t see myself as‭ ‬“disabled‭”‬ and definitely do not like the term.‭   ‬I am a strong believer in the power of positive thinking and having the right attitude.‭  ‬I am not a fan of labels-‭ ‬especially when they are imposed on us by others.‭  ‬Muppets say‭ ‬“I ain‭’‬t no puppet,‭ ‬I am a large and very stately‭ ‬Eagle who delivers the news.‭”‬   What is apparent on the outside means nothing to them and because of that they go out and achieve what they want.‭  ‬That‭’‬s the frame of mind we need to have.‭

I‭’‬m not‭ ‬“disabled‭;‬” I‭’‬m Paul Artale and that‭’‬s all I need to be.‭   ‬Now if you‭’‬ll excuse me,‭ ‬I need to go.‭  ‬You see it‭’‬s time to play the music and it‭’‬s time to light the lights…..I sure that you can figure out the rest.‭

Happy Holidays‭!