Big news today: Random House will publish a newly discovered Dr. Seuss book, What Pet Should I Get. Last night, I read my very favorite Dr. Seuss book to my little ones: Oh, the Places You’ll Go! This book has always been a favorite of mine. I’ve always been a dreamer, and always believed I was destined to do great things. I still believe that (I believe everyone is), but after years of working toward my goals, fame and fortune still elude me, and I’ve come to appreciate some of the (harsher) doses of reality found in Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
1) You have the power to choose
Life is not fair. It never has been and it never will be. Some people are born into wealth and some into poverty. Some people are born into loving, healthy families, while others are abandoned as infants. Why? Why is there so much inequality? I don’t know.
There is definitely a sense of randomness, and of luck, in life, but there is also choice. Everyone has the power to choose, and those choices affect not only themselves but all of us. One small choice can create a ripple effect through the ages. It isn’t fair, but it is true nonetheless.
However, no matter what choices were made before you and how they rippled down to affect your life, YOU still have your OWN choices to make.
“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.”
You can take the power back. You just have to admit that you are in control of your own destiny. Some will have to work harder than others to get where they want to be–that’s where the unfairness comes in. But everybody still has a choice. Everybody can decide which way to go.
2) There will be setbacks
Even with your power to choose, and even with your destiny for greatness, there will be low moments. Maybe even rock bottom moments.
“I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
can happen to you.”
No matter how clever, talented, or privileged you are, you’re going to hit set-backs. Seuss describes this as a “Slump.”
“And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
is not easily done.”
No, it isn’t. And some people never manage to “un-slump” themselves, finding a way to be content with mediocrity.
Don’t do that.
3) We waste too much time waiting
Seuss writes about The Waiting Place. It is a “most useless place.”
“Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.”
How often do we just wait for life to happen for us? Wait for that big break? Wait for love to find us? Wait for something good to come on TV, or for something important to show up in our Facebook news feed (there must be a reason we keep checking it, right?)? Good things usually don’t just happen. And remember that “slump”? Spending all your time waiting to get out a slump won’t accomplish anything.
That’s not for you!”
4) Life is full of lonely moments
“I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.”
Actually, this quote teaches two lessons: 1) we’re all going to have lonely moments in life, where we are left mostly on our own (I don’t believe you are ever totally on your own); 2) sometimes you are your own worst enemy, or at least your biggest obstacle. Laziness, self-doubt, fear, ridiculous expectations, perfectionism–these can all get in the way of success.
5) You can move mountains (but nothing is guaranteed)
“And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)
“KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!”
You’ll move mountains…maybe. First you have to overcome yourself. You have to accept that it will take work, time, and maybe even all you have. It must be worth it to you. Worth it to sometimes be alone. Worth it to give up on other, less important endeavors. And even then–after you’ve worked as hard as you possibly can–life may still get in your way.
I started taking a self-defense class, and last week the instructor told us (and I’m paraphrasing), “You don’t want to be a victim. You want to turn this into a fight. The odds might still be against you, but they’re better than if you do nothing.” Life lesson.
Some things in life are guaranteed, and this is one of them: if you do nothing, you will accomplish nothing. And that is not for you.
Move that mountain.
(Source: Seuss. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! New York: Random House, 1990. Print.)