Y’all remember the Smurfs? When I was in middle school every Saturday morning I would watch “The Smurfs”. I loved the message of community and resourcefulness. The singular villain, Gargamel, was a stand in for the cruel world and later on I would learn was me as well. I was enchanted by their village that they created from found materials. LOL! There was one thing about the Smurfs that I did not connect with and it is coming back to haunt me in my adult professional life, ironically enough. Why were Smurfs so one dimensional?
I mean really! All of the Smurfs were one dimensional (except for Papa Smurf, the mysterious wise daddy with all the answers). They were all one note characters that were useless without the specific skill they brought and useless without the care, recognition, and aid of the others. I always saw that as a weakness; even as a child. Today as I navigate the world as a 21st Century Mentor, Data Scientist, Hobby Anthropologist, Inventor, Poet, Activist, Educator and Farmer I find that the world is really far more like the Smurfs than I had ever imagined. Everyone wants to be a specialist and being a Thomas Jefferson, DaVinci, Hedy Lamar, or Buckminster Fuller is anomalous. Those people are my heroes. We all need to be more like them or at least Papa Smurf. We sure as hell need more Smurfettes in STEM. It boggles my mind that people think they have to be one thing really, really well, or one thing just good enough. I knew even as a kid that I would need a “Ride or Die” team of Smurfs to effectively exist in the real world.
My dream team was always Brainy, Brauny, Farmer, Handy, Happy, Poet, Smurfette, and Papa Smurf. That’s who I am today (Smurfette in spirit) and it boggles my mind that people are frustrated — especially on LinkedIN — that I take credit for being all of those things. It seems without fail every time I post on LinkedIn about my “other” interests I get confused comments or messages along the lines of “what is it you do again?” I chose the job title “Sultan of Systems” ON PURPOSE. I know the entire universe – empirical, quantum or relativistic or hell, even a holographic data projection – is a system. I knew even then that it was really a sustainable ecosystem. To act instinctively with coherent laser focus is to take without giving and renders you useless in a world that deals in analog and incoherent light and a web of life.
One should be as useful and engaged as your mind, body and community will allow. I happen to believe that every interest is an opportunity to change the world. And I act on that impulse. Don’t be a Smurf; Be a dimensional, interested and interesting person. Surround yourself with challenges, vibrant community, and fabulous colleagues and friends. Feel love and give it freely. Accept your inner Gargamel and be patient with it and the world at large. I am enough. I am a Smurf Village. I hope you all are too. Cheers!