“Calmness, Only Calmness.” Classic Soviet Cartoons to the Rescue

As we get to the end of the semester, here are some words of wisdom from the cartoons we grew up with that will help you go out with a bang!

Karlsson-on-the-Roof, a portly “man in the prime of his life,”  gets into all sorts of trouble together with his friend. His motto is  “Calmness, only calmness!” and with that, he manages to scare off robbers by turning into a “charming ghost with a propeller” and drive the babysitter crazy to the point where she called the “Life of Ghosts” TV show using her shower head as a phone. Russian take on Zen, indeed. 

When you’re stuck, think about how the characters in 38 Parrots solved their problem of measuring the boa. Turns out one boa can be two elephants or five monkeys, or … indeed, 38 parrots. But keep in mind that, as the Monkey says: “You can’t be thinking the same thought all the time. It’s bad for you! You can get sad or sick from it.”

Mawgli, the Soviet version of Jungle Book, has many of the familiar characters and themes, such as “It’s the jungle law: each one for himself.” Think about how well that worked for their gang in the jungle, and how while yes, there’s always merit for looking out for yourself, great things happen when great minds come together.

Do you have a group project that just seems to be going from bad to worse? What started as an idea that have everyone on board with is now a major point of contention? Leopold the Cat, who is constantly getting tortured by two mice, has an excellent piece of advice: “Guys! Let’s all get along!”

When you’re heading to the stolovaya for lunch, you’re in good company with Winnie the Pooh, who in the Soviet version of the cartoon loved to go visit his friends, especially in the mornings, with the sole purpose of “a little bit of nourishment”. When the Rabbit asked him, if he wanted honey or sweetened condensed milk on his sandwich, his famous response was: “Both, and OK without bread.”

Is your team having a hard time sticking to the budget for your prototype? Matriskin, the wise cat in the “Winter in Prostokvashino”, is upset with Sharik, the dog, who splurged on a pair of fancy sneakers instead of reasonable winter footwear. “We have the means, we just lack the brains!” he says, summing up the frustration in all of us.

In a traditional Russian fairytale, a guy catches a magic pike that can fulfill any wish. In the surreal and hilarious “The Last Year’s Snow Was Falling”, the roles get reversed and a pike catches the guy, who begs it: “Lady! Please let me go! I know the magic word! “Thank you”! Maybe try that when you’re trying to get a zachot?

“Till Friday, I’m completely free!” Piglet declares to Winnie the Pooh. May that be your thought as your team sits down to finish your project, or even better, when afterwards you take a few days to enjoy your next adventure.

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