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  • Writer's pictureRichard A. Jones

Totally Awesome

Totally Awesome

Charlie Brown and Linus are sitting together at “the wall”:

Charlie Brown (holding his head in his hands): “I hate to see the sun go down. It means another day has been wasted.”

Linus: “What would you consider a day not wasted, Charlie Brown?”

Charlie Brown: “Being elected president of our country, marrying the girl of my dreams, becoming a millionaire, and hitting a home run.”

Linus: “Whew, Charlie Brown, no wonder you’re depressed.”


When I was growing up, about the only time I remember hearing words such as astounding, sensational, or incredible was when a circus was coming to the area. I’m sure it was around, but I don’t ever remember hearing the word awesome.

Now these are good words, when spoken in a certain context, but have you noticed how these words seem to have become normal vocabulary in every day life and conversation.

In Target stores last December, Merry Christmas was converted to, “make your holiday spectacular.” And not long ago, a grocery store clerk, as I left the store, told me to have a “fantastic” day.

If that isn’t enough, we string superlatives together: “totally awesome” or “incredibly-phenomenal.” A radio program ends with the exhortation, “have a super-fantastic weekend.” A birthday card I saw recently proclaimed, “You are ridiculously-amazing, wishing you an insanely-awesome birthday.”


There was a time when ordinary simply meant normal or standard. Today ordinary seems to be viewed as mundane, uneventful, or boring. It appears to me, that we have moved from an expectation of ordinary and good—to a demand for amazing and awesome. We have come to define life by the superlative.

Advertising plays on this hunger for “awesome” by promoting everything from automobiles to body wash as the key to having the “super-amazing" life, we are told we deserve.

This mentality has a ripple effect. Anytime anything happens, from a plane crash, to spilling hot coffee on yourself, the first course of action is to find out who is to blame. Every thing that is sold comes with detailed disclaimers in order to avoid a law suit. How about this one on a hot water heater— “raising temperature of water may increase risk of scalding.” Really! How stupid do they think we are?


I remember a conversation I had with my dad after my Freshman year in college. We were in the car and the radio news was warning us baby boomers that summer jobs were going to be scarce.

Sensing my concern, my dad said: “Don’t worry; what they mean is that there won’t be many jobs where you make a lot of money, doing little work, and have fun doing it—If you want to work, you’ll find it.”

He continued: “The difference between your generation and mine is that until very recently, I never heard anyone talk about looking for a job they enjoyed. You worked because you had to work, and you liked to eat.”

That summer I painted classrooms for a school district, and had many other opportunities for work.


Today, our society tells Children that they can do anything they want, be anything they desire, and that nothing is impossible. They are encouraged to follow their dreams and reach for the stars. I’m sure that this is meant to motivate and encourage young people to aim high and excel, but sometimes what is said, may not be what is heard.

While there are many variables involved, and I don’t, in any way, want to oversimplify; I wonder if this quest for amazing may have somehow contributed to significant increases in teen depression, eating disorders, and suicides since 1950. Life can never measure up to the expectation.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that we should not strive for excellence. Setting goals and working hard to accomplish them is admirable. Having work that is enjoyable and fulfilling is good, and we should never feel guilty about it. But could this demand for the “super- fantastic” be creating a sense of discontent and discouragement with normal life?

Many people in the world today would consider it a pretty good day if they had enough to eat, were not injured, imprisoned, or enslaved, and they were still alive when the sun went down.

It seems to me, that Americans since WWII have been gradually and subtly conditioned to believe that life should be risk-free, fulfill their every demand and wish, be always convenient and pleasant, and make them feel wonderful and happy, if not all the time, at least most of the time.

Actually the underpinnings of this desire for life “extraordinary” did not begin in the 1950‘s. Genesis 11:4 “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves...”

It is an expression of the philosophy of ‘no limits’—and 21st century American culture seems to have bought in completely to this ancient dictum of the people who gathered on the plain of Shinar to reach for the sky.

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1 Comment

Apr 15, 2023

Thanks Dick - in such on overly complicated world man has created - it's men like you and Jesus that reminds us how simple is the way!

Matthew Christensen

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