Monday, October 12, 2009
Thank you Nestle Quick Bunny for your inspiration!
I must first apologize to all my friends for not giving you due credit for the inspiration to finally launch a website. After years of enthusiastic encouragement, most of my friends had given up trying to get me online to offer an insight into my yoga, counseling and other supportive services. In response to their encouragement, I would humbly state that I did not like solicitation and would rather remain under the radar screen with my services. I kept this philosophy for quite some time and even at that time managed to do quite well in securing ample yoga teaching opportunities at sports clubs and studios and counseling gigs at local nonprofits.
And then, on one seemingly insignificant day, as I biked through West Oakland on my way to work, I saw this big brown cartoon character that I had become acquainted with during early childhood. To my surprise, he seemed to be aging rather well for a small mammal. In fact, he appeared to be much more confident, perhaps one could even say menacing, then when I first encountered him over three decades ago. He seemed to have a very commanding presence and offered an unforgiving stare to those that looked up at him on the billboard. The Nestle Quick Bunny was alive and well and our reunion caught me off guard. Unlike my earlier memories of the Bunny who appeared on containers of sugary sweet chocolate powder and made occasional Saturday morning commercial appearances between “Super Friends” and “Sigmund and the Sea Monsters”, Bunny now stood over 20 feet tall and firmly held his oversized glass of brown liquid in his monster paws. His two front teeth were shiny white even though he had his lips around a large striped straw from which he sipped his favorite drink. He boldly proclaimed something that initially seemed to offer exactly what I needed to hear.
Some of his more memorable phrases on his bulletin boards include: “One sip takes you to your happy place.” “When life hands you lemons, make chocolate milk.” “Honk if you are happy.” Yes, the Bunny was on to something here. During these times of economic uncertainty, he had re-emerged out of his Corporate rabbit hole to remind us that an inexpensive product that he has represented since 1973 is here to provide us with escapism through the simple pleasure of a glass of milk chocolate. What could be better than that? In fact, because of Bunny’s sudden reappearance, I started thinking that there would certainly be some ready-to-drink chocolate milk at a nearby corner store from where I was at that time. I stared into Bunny’s eyes. He glared back. Yeah, chocolate milk is a great way to cool me down, I concluded. Why hadn’t I had thought of that sooner?
In a hypnotic-like state, I pedaled more quickly to the corner store, and in a shameless, Pavlovian way, my mouth was already watering in anticipation of the cold, foamy chocolatey drink quenching my thirst. Thinking about my near future encounter with Bunny’s treat, I felt as if a part of me had already arrived at my happy place. As I continued past the billboard, I turned my gaze from Bunny and was still looking forward to the chocolate drink I was determined to make part of my morning bike ride. I was a block away from the corner store when I saw a young mother leaning over a baby carriage. The mother appeared to be quite young and also morbidly obese. She seemed to have her hands full tending to her two young children. As I coasted closer, I saw that she was pouring the familiar brown drink into her children’s baby bottles. The children were initially crying and fussy. As soon as the mother handed them their bottles full of Nestle Quick, the children became subdued, fixated on sucking on their bottles. The mother appeared to be happy to find a small mouthful of chocolate milk left for her to enjoy and quickly chugged it back during her moment of reprieve. Almost immediately after she finished her small swig, her expression returned to that of dysthymic resignation, perhaps knowing she would have to wait a long while until she could revisit her ‘happy place’ again. I looked back over my right shoulder to see if I could reconnect with the Bunny’s eyes and find a different interpretation of what I had just witnessed.
All I could make out was the back side of the billboard with a dilapidated picture of three men and a woman staring back at each other with a 1-800 number for DNA paternity testing company. Perhaps they too would all eventually find their happy place once they got that all sorted out. Even if I was in a car, I was no longer in the mood to honk about my happiness. The harsh realities of our modern era returned as quickly as the Bunny had managed to take them away. I saw the Bunny’s ‘true colors’ and they were not sweet shades of chocolate milk. Suddenly, the same ad had a particularly frightening edge to it. How had I missed this a second ago?
Our culture’s main staple is that of prepackaged instant gratification. Through the onslaught of media, we are encouraged to move faster, work harder, and find quick fixes to soothe our weary minds and bodies. The Bunny had not come out of semi-retirement to do anything but help us find true happiness. Here was another corporate giant merely attempting to woo a fatigued passerby off guard in hope’s that he or she would fall into that rabbit hole of finding easily purchased remedies for ‘self-healing’. I then recalled another stealth attempt by McDonald’s new iced coffee ads that boldy inquire: “Who says you can’t buy happiness?”
The Bunny is in good company, I sardonically said to myself. American culture has done a good job at getting us this far where happiness is for sale at a recession-reduced bargain price. We have so many options as consumers but do we truly have time to make mindful decisions as to how we spend our limited funds and even more precious time? If I believed that the human species is capable of making better decisions on how to take care of themselves as our health care systems fail and our economic systems crumble, then it would be up to me and other healers to be sure that folks realize that there are other options than just the likes of the Bunny. I pedaled the rest of my commute to work with an amused smile on my face and a light heart.
I was filled with gratitude that the Bunny and the struggling mother had taught me this invaluable lesson about the importance of promoting something in which someone truly believes. I am not about to counter the Bunny’s “Honk if you are happy” with a rip off such as “OM if you are happy” yet I did realize that morning that I could maintain my integrity with my yoga practice and as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker while creating a non-solicitous, tasteful website to inform people of my services.
Gratitude does come in all colors, including chocolate milk.