Life Lessons from an Underground Cave
Updated: Dec 17, 2022
This is the logo for Fraggle Rock. Image from Wikipedia under Fair Use.
When you think of caves, you might think of bears, spiritual yoga practitioners, or mystics. But lately, when I think of caves and cave creatures, I think only of the Fraggles and Fraggle Rock–Jim Henson’s 1983 Canadian muppets.
If you have yet to meet the Fraggles, here's a short summary: the Fraggles are a fun-loving, earnest, colorful and sincere group of small creatures who live in underground caves, surfacing only to collect radishes (their favorite food) or to visit “Marjory the Trash heap”–their version of the Oracle–who is indeed a muppet compost pile. Having digested all of life and transformed the rot, Marjory is all-knowing and wise.
The Fraggles are fantastic. According to Wikipedia, “Henson described the Fraggle Rock series as ‘a high-energy, raucous musical romp. It's a lot of silliness. It's wonderful.’ The program proved accessible to audiences of all ages, and used the fantasy creatures as an allegory to deal with serious issues such as prejudice, spirituality, personal identity, the environment, and social conflict.”
You can watch Fraggle Rock (the original four seasons plus two reboots) on Apple TV (which I normally don’t have but I recently received a free three month trial) or search “Fraggle Rock” on YouTube.
What I love about Fraggle Rock, other than the songs with soft lessons embedded, the can-do attitude, the bouncy sweetness of the joyful intro (watch it here), is the change in perspective that it offers me.
My favorite portion of Fraggle Rock is the short segment embedded in each episode featuring the self-proclaimed “famous” Fraggle named “Uncle Traveling Matt.” Uncle Traveling Matt has bravely left the Fraggle caves (via a hole in the wall of a workshop) to explore “outer space” (i.e. the human realm).
All of the creatures (plants, birds, humans, vacuum cleaners) in outer space are universally referred to by Uncle Matt as “silly creatures.” The reboot relies on this more heavily, as Uncle Traveling Matt sends back artifacts from the human realm to Fraggle Rock, including disposable water bottles (which the Fraggles wear as a tail protector) and bubble wrap (which the Fraggles wear as a cape).
Uncle Traveling Matt isn’t ever quite sure what these objects are but he infers that the silly creatures (and we are silly indeed) must LOVE bubble wrap and single-use plastic, since he finds so much of it during his travels.
He also encounters a laptop computer which he describes as a “clickety-clackety ding-ding machine” and, indeed, that’s a more accurate rendering of our devices than the almighty term “smartphone.” Especially since we all get a serious hit of dopamine when our clickety-clackety devices light up.
Fraggle Rock is reminding me not only to stop and sing (it’s also partially a musical), but, more importantly, to look at things upside-down or backwards or outside of how I normally see.
Do I want to spend so much of my day clickety-clackety-ding-ding-ing?
How can I reduce or reuse my bubble wrap cape consumption?
The light-heartedness of the show is what makes me most happy. Though there are fairly heavy messages embedded about ego, the environment, the nature of reality, Fraggle Rock is also a delightful romp through a playful land of magical creatures who must complete a requisite “thirty minute Fraggle work week” but whose main aim is to play, connect, and explore.
I hope that this inspires you to consider how you can see your own little corner of “outer space” with fresh eyes in the coming weeks. Connecting with children or animals is a great way to help you shift your perspective. Or you can simply pause and ask yourself how you can creatively reconnect with the people and the environment around you.
We’re slipping into autumn soon, and we will all be hunkering down in our caves a bit as the weather starts to cool. This is a great time to refresh your relationship with yourself, with your environment, and with the other silly creatures in your life.
Get curious and be open and available to the wonders all around you.