Oh, The Places You’ll Go
I have the privilege of working for a really interesting company. We make packaging products for protecting important items in transit. So, it is especially fun for my kids. I always have pieces of packing bubble in my trunk or home for the kids to play with. Large sized bubbles that snap loudly, or small bubbles that crackle as they’re twisted and air pillows that seem to yelp when they pop! Last week I heard the soft laughter and sharp cracks of the samples in my car from Clare’s car seat as she excitedly yelled, “daddy there are fireworks in the car!” Her sister giggling along thinking they’d fooled their old dad.
One day I was working at one of the Amazon distribution facilities we support where they use some of these products. I was admiring the endless array of items passing by me. There are never-ending conveyor belt lines like a scene from the Jetsons except instead of flying cars, all you see are totes with the most random items flying every which way. A single stick of lipstick, zigging across the warehouse, some office supplies zagging down a chute to a bin, a pair of shoes twirling around a slide and into a truck, a spatula in one tote, a spoon in the other, and a whisk in the next… “are all of these going to the same place?” I thought.
As I sat in awe of the beautifully complicated operation that Amazon has put together, one item struck me the most. Lying face up in a plastic box. Staring right up at me was the book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss. I kind of smirked to myself and looked around wondering if anyone else saw the book coursing through the jungle of conveyors and metalized roadways. The irony of “Oh, the places you’ll go” in an Amazon facility…
“Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away”…
I spent the next few minutes thinking about the journey of this book. Where was it going? Were the rest of the products and household items cheering, like a scene from Toy Story as the book was finally selected to make its way to some family’s house for inspiration? No, but it’s fun to imagine. If it weren’t for imagination, we wouldn’t have those ideas or even the book.
I remember a number of friends getting this book in High School as graduation gifts. I didn’t think of it at the time but now I think it is such a creative idea and fitting present. The book is full of wonder and creativity like all of Dr. Seuss’ works. The story is one that always provides a sense of peace. It is a story of life’s journey. A viewpoint of what we can expect as we live on this big mysterious rock floating through space.
Additionally, I enjoy reading it to my girls for bedtime. I don’t know about other parents, but I avoid reading certain books to the girls. Whereas other stories are fun for me…. Spiderman – yes. Paw Patrol – no. “Oh the Places You’ll Go” is a definite yes.
And as a nearly lifelong lover of this Dr. Seuss classic, I wanted to share how anyone, from 3 to 33 can learn from this timeless story. Below, I’ve added my own lines of Seussian (that’s an actual word btw) narration and rhymes to highlight what goes through my head when I read the book. I hope you enjoy my explication:
“Oh the places you’ll go”. It’s a journey of encouragement… “you won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.” Dr. Seuss believes in you. “Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Where you go you will top all the rest.” He wants to fill you with a sense of excitement.
“You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be seeing great sights. You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights” This books knows what you’re capable of and exists out of a sense of goodness and wonder.
“You have brains in your head and feet in our shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know and YOU are the girl or guy who’ll decide where to go” It is up to you to succeed. No one can do it for you.
“You’ll look up and down streets. Look ‘em over with care . About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there” – I wish I chose different streets sometimes…others I’d take again – I want to go down the road that leads to a life worth reliving.
…. “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”
But Oh, The Places You’ll Go is also a book about realistic expectations. Life isn’t perfect. The trials and tribulations we face are part of the adventure. Life is full of ups and downs and times where we just feel stuck in place.. “I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, its true that bang-ups and hang-ups can happen to you”
What constitutes as a “bang up” in life changes over time. The bang ups at 4 aren’t the same at 14 or 24 or 34. I’m sure what constitutes as a challenge at 44 will make the ones today seem insignificant’. Not having the right color of crayon can seem like a real bang up to my 4 year old daughter Sarah. It pales in comparison to the thought of losing a job or having a health scare as an adult. But in her mind it equals the same disastrous thoughts.
“Except when you don’t. Because, sometimes you won’t. I am sorry to say but sadly it’s true that Bang ups and Hang ups can happen to you. YOU can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. and your gang will fly on you’ll be left in a lurch.”
This happens sometimes when you get a little too cozy. Or you don’t look around or focus and mozy. You can get really down, like it’s hopeless or lost. Just know, giving up has a much greater cost.
“You’ll come down from the lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a slump”.
Slumps are the worst and take time and hard work. But slumps are just bumps, a life moment berserk.
“And when you’re in a slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”
“Though on you will go, though the weather be foul. On you will go through your enemies prowl On you will go through the Hakken-Kraks howl.”
The harder the strife, the stronger you’ll be. The longer the grief the more endurance you’ll see.
“Onward up many a frightening creek. Though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak.”
Remember that creeks aren’t rivers or seas, so swimmings not needed when its up to your knees.
“On and on you will hike
and I know you’ll hike far.
and face up to your problems whatever they are.”
Because tough is not measured by muscles but grit and people like people who aren’t full of shit.
“And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t Stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.”
That is one of my favorite lines… “you’ll start happening too”. It is fun to notice positive changes in our lives. They can be hard to identify in ourselves. The best moments I have where I notice someone ‘starting to happen” is when I see development or change in my daughters. They surprise me with something they’ve learned or turn a corner in their attitude and mature. As they get older, the “happenings” will become more pronounced and seeing them evolve into wonderful young girls and eventually well-adjusted young women is an exciting thought for me.
Ultimately this book is about adventure. Life is an adventure. Life should be an adventure. When my girls go on an adventure in their minds, they come up with the most wonderful thoughts. Like “Daddy did you know that we can be mermaids when we grow up?” and “its okay to lick dinosaurs” (more on that another time) or “Sarah, did you know there are fireworks in our car?”
At some point we stop looking at the world through the lens of adventure. I get it though, we don’t have the same luxuries that children do – we’re too busy doing everything for them. But having responsibilities and a job does not mean that we can’t create our own form of adventure. This is why people like Dr. Seuss are needed, as a creative reminder.
When I look back on my life there are so many wonderful things to be grateful for. My children of course, but I also appreciate my upbringing. I am grateful for the friends and family that taught me so much. I think about how I wouldnt be who I am today if it wasn’t for college experiences, the travels and opportunity to live abroad. I wouldn’t think the way I do if it weren’t for the late nights wandering city streets and early morning sunrises lost in the mountains; Coffee or beer with friends, growing up in a community of loving people. Each one of these moments molded a piece of my heart and character. They all taught me something.
So as I continue to head out into the wide open air, I want to take a piece of Dr. Seuss and his encouraging words with me. Reminded that as I live this life as an individual, businessman, brother, son, friend and father that I …
“be sure when I step. I step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Never to forget to be dexterous and deft and never mix up my right foot with my left.”
Because the places we go will be fun and exciting. Some’ll be dark, uncertain, and trying.
Long as we keep going things will be fine, and each one of us will be in for the adventure of a lifetime.
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