Monday, February 24, 2014

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

I feel obligated to give a little bit of a backstory: this Dr. Seuss classic was one of my favorite books from the time I first learned to read. I pored over every word and every illustration. I knew the whole story by heart. And then, in what still remains a family mystery, the book vanished. I have a suspicion it was accidentally tossed during some year’s spring-cleaning, or maybe lent out and never returned. I searched every bookshelf, every storage box, even countless used book sale racks, but no luck.

I still haven’t found my book, but last week I did get another copy (thanks, Mom!). Reading the words that had slipped from memory was a fun moment of nostalgia, but more than that, they were relevant to me today in a way I hadn’t expected. I found maybe even more meaning in these simple words than I did when I was a child. Dr. Seuss’s story is full of the wisdom of growing up, the ups and downs and the successes and disappointments that make the journey challenging but worthwhile. Life’s problems, and their solutions, can be summed up in a few lines:

“You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with great care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.”

It’s advice that makes sense whether you’re five, twenty-five or seventy-five, as simple and uncomplicated as it should be. Life is a maze, and it’s impossible to make the right move all the time. The best you can do is be thoughtful and clever, and try to make the steps you take be the right ones. Always make sure to enjoy the good things in life, and remember that they will be waiting for you at the end of your troubles. And never think that those troubles will ever be so bad you can’t tell right from left. After all, “you have what you have, and you know what you know, and you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

Though we may think we grow out of them, children’s books can hold a lot of wisdom. So find a book you loved as a kid and read it again. See what it means to you now. If you want, I’ll even let you borrow my favorite.

-Elizabeth Coluccio

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