Reading is my second greatest passion, surpassed only by my love of writing. One of my favorite ways to pass my free time is wandering aimlessly through a bookstore, searching out just the right title for that particular time in my life. I read for pleasure. I read when I’m stressed and need to relax. I read to learn and for inspiration. I read to grow spiritually, or try to at least.
I’ve written here about the impact my reading has had on me. I’ve talked about The Shack and Hinds’ Feet On High Places. So when my friend Eric recommended a book that his pastor has read to his congregation many times, I decided to look into it. But this trip to bookstore didn’t lead me to the self-help section, the religion section, or even the philosophy section. Nope, I went straight to the children’s section to seek out Dr. Seuss, who was my favorite childhood author. Okay, I’ll be totally honest, he’s still my favorite author. I was in search of “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” which at this time of year is easy enough to find as it was written as a graduation address.
Now I have to say, I love Dr. Seuss, truly I do. But I couldn’t quite equate “Fox In Sox” or “Cat In The Hat” with God In Heaven. But Eric had posted the words from this book on his Facebook page. Reading it there, without the colorful whimsy that is the hallmark of any Dr. Seuss illustration, that words seemed to jump off the screen. I could see myself on this journey of life and the places he described were places I had heard about or had already been. I saw the place I was now and I suddenly saw this book in a whole new way.
And now in tribute to my beloved Dr. Seuss:
I saw myself in this book.
Now here, you must take a look.
See for yourself, what place are you at?
I assure you, this is so NOT “Cat In The Hat”!
“Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Seuss
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
You’ll look up and down streets. Look ‘em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.
And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.
It’s opener there
in the wide open air.
Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.
THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!
You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.
You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.
I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
can happen to you.
You can get all hung up
in a prickly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.
You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then
that you’ll be in Slump.
And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
is not easily done.
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?
And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
Or right-and-three quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
For a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.
You can get so confused
that you’ll start to race
down long wiggled roads at break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…
…for people just waiting.
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.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday nite
or waiting, perhaps for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.
That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.
With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of guy!
Oh, places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.
Except when they don’t
Because, sometimes, they won’t.
I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
‘cause you’ll play against you.
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.
And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.
But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.
On and on you will hike.
And I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.
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 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.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)
KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!
Be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
Or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!
Right now, I’m at the place where the streets are unmarked. I’m searching for something I haven’t quite found. I don’t know where I’m going and my instinct is to run. When I run, I go around in a circle and end up right smack in that Waiting Place, exhausted and scared, waiting for some kind of sign or direction or something to point out the safe way to go forward. I don’t like this dark place, but somehow I know this is where I’m supposed to be right now. Remembering that the journey is THROUGH the dark valley and not INTO the dark valley is key to keeping my feet moving.
I have new places to go, the bright places I hope.
And I know I can get up this steep slippery slope.
Because I walk with the same Lord who put the brains in my head and the feet in my shoes.
But I still wish He’d put the map in my hand, or at least give me some clues.
Many thanks to Eric B. for the inspiring conversation!