My Life as Epicenter: Lessons from “Leave it to Beaver”

Two years into this blog and nary a word about “Leave it to Beaver?”  I’m shocked by the omission, especially as “Beaver” has been a big part of my life (in the way that sitcoms can be “big,” which is admittedly limited).

I met Beaver in 1976.  I got his autograph.  I own a typewriter that once belonged to Hugh Beaumont (“Mr. Cleaver” for the uninitiated, if there are any).  I can quote episodes here and there.  I’m a fan.

And the realization that I have not been mining this particular vein of television drama for blogposts will indeed drive me in a new direction.  I feel it coming on.

But today I’m going to stick with one thought about Beaver.  And it came from reading a review in the Washington Post today about a newly released set of all 234 episodes.  As tempting as it would be to buy the set (just under $200) and settle into the couch, I cannot justify devoting three work weeks to watching the 117 hours worth of golden memories.  Maybe I’ll rent a few favorites.

I did love Tom Shales’ reference in the article to the “eerily underpopulated Everytown called Mayfield” where Beaver and his family lived. And I do remember that the extent of drama or action on the periphery of their particular home related to — occasionally — a car driving by or the camera straying off the Cleaver’s patch of perfect grass to clue us in to the approach of lumbering Larry Mondello or smarmy Eddie Haskell.  But we saw them because they were involved with the Cleavers.  It was CleaverWorld.

And that gets me — finally — to the point of this post:  we each live in a world that is about us.  Or so we think.  We aren’t so interested in anyone who might be only playing the part of an “extra.”  We are interested in the drama as it revolves around ourselves.  We think of ourselves as the center of the universe.  I’m talking way beyond basic selfishness to ethnocentrism, but also beyond ethnocentrism to hubris.

I come up short in reading scripture when I realize (or remember) that my life is wrapped up in the purposes of God, that I am here for His purposes, His plan.

If my life story were shot cinematically like Beaver’s, the lens would not appropriately be focused on my front door, on my kitchen, on my sneaker-clad little feet beating a path around Mayfield, although that’s what I tend to think should happen.

The wide-angle view might more appropriately capture my relative unimportance in the scheme of things… wide enough to encompass heaven and earth, wide enough that I might remember that I’m here to do my part in seeing that “thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”

Even as I do so in the day-to-day, focused view of the specific CleaverWorld in which I find myself.  With the family I dwell with.  In the physical space I occupy.  On the streets where I live.

Ah Beaver, life looked so simple in your world.  And I loved it.  And thanks for the autograph and the memories.

A Sampling of My Leave it to Beaver Memorabilia

~ by Cary on June 29, 2010.

3 Responses to “My Life as Epicenter: Lessons from “Leave it to Beaver””

  1. I can NOT believe you have that autograph. How did THAT happen? And you have that Mr. Cleaver typewriter? Mostly I remember Eddie Haskell. His name is used a lot in my life, epitomizing a skin-crawling-ly disingenuous approach.

    • Ah yes, I met Beaver at a mall where he was doing an appearance and someone in the audience said, and I quote, “I heard you died in Vietnam; is that true?”

  2. Oh, that’s a howler! What possible response could one make? Quote Mark Twain, perhaps, on “the news of my demise”?
    And oddly enough, it’s Eddie Haskell who most frequently intrudes into my thoughts these many years later as well. I’m sure there’s some interesting feature of human nature that might be observed from that.

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