This post is inspired and guided by (and heavily cribbed from) Martha Brackenbough’s letter to her daughter about a similarly magical individual. You can read that letter here. Please know that while this post was written partially as a parody of Ms. Brackenbough's letter, I am a sincere fan and, in this case, imitation is intended as a form of flattery.
You asked a really great question the other day, “Is Goldy Gopher real?”
I know that you’ve struggled with this question a long time, and I’ve had to think very hard about the answer.
The answer is yes, Goldy Gopher IS real – but Goldy isn’t quite like you and I. You see, Goldy is a magical creature made of the love of all Minnesota alumni and supporters past and future.
Goldy does have “helpers” who sometimes put on the 00 jerseys and allow themselves to be magically transformed into Goldys. They dance, sit with you in the stands, and welcome the teams when they arrive. They go to alumni events and even weddings. The Goldys cheer up students with Goldy’s trademark antics as they study for their exams or just try to make it through a long Minnesota winter. The Goldys play with the same kids who they will one day also welcome as new students to the campus. They take pictures with Minnesota fans, and even the many fans of rival teams who just can’t resist that Gopher charm.
There are many helpers, but they are all the one and only Goldy Gopher.
Goldy Gopher is the spirit of the University of Minnesota, and his magic comes from all of the Gophers – students, alumni, and other honorary Gophers – and that magic is made of sugar, spice, and everything Minnesota Nice. Where many other mascots try to be fierce, Goldy eventually wins everyone over with his mischievous smile and genuine nature.
I imagine that you will someday meet Goldy Gopher at a game, on campus, at an event, or just walking down a street in Minneapolis or St. Paul. I know that you will love to see all of the people of all ages flock to him for pictures, hugs, and laughs. The child like light in their eyes will move you, as it moves me every time I see it.
This won’t make you Goldy, but it will make you a Gopher. Some of you will only be Gophers for a brief moment as you appreciate how happy he makes people. Others will stay Gopher’s forever, lending your light and love to Goldy as he goes about his work to spread happiness everywhere he goes.
Goldy is bigger than any single person, he is a timeless friend. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches us all how to believe in something more than what we see – to suspend our jadedness and realize that, yes, the Goldy we are with is, indeed, the REAL Goldy Gopher.
It’s a big job, and it’s an important one. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your friends, in your talents, and in your family. You’ll also need to believe in things you can’t measure or even hold in your hand. Here, I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest nights of a Minnesota winter.
Goldy is a teacher, and I have been his student and now you know the secret of how he manages to be at every Gopher game and so many other events: Goldy has help from all the people whose hearts he’s filled with joy.
With full hearts, Gophers everywhere take our turns helping Goldy do a job that would otherwise be impossible.
So yes, Goldy Gopher IS real. Goldy is love and magic and fun and hope and happiness. I’m on his team, and now you are, too.
I love Goldy Gopher and I always will.
I Try: The Additive Property of Happiness http://www.theadditivepropertyofhappiness.com