Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Oh the Places You'll Go

When I graduated from college my aunts gave me, along with some other things, a copy of Dr. Seuss's Oh the Places You'll Go. I must admit, I never looked at it. I put it on my shelf with other books but it sat unopened for a few years.

Years later I wasn't even the one who would open it, flyboy found it and wanted to know why we hadn't put it with the other kids books. He is a Dr. Seuss fan, me, eh I can take it or leave it. He started reading that book as often as dash-1 would let him. He'll kill me for typing this but there is a point, sometimes I would see him put the book away and I would swear to you his eyes had tears in them.

The night before last dash-2 picked out his book that he wanted read and sure enough it was the old fave, "Oh the Places You'll Go". Last night something was different I really heard the words that I was reading. Actually I didn't just hear them I felt them and understood them in a different way.

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

That little passage is in the first few pages of the book. And that's what snapped me to attention.

Something is missing these days. Personal responsibility or whatever you want to call it. The willingness and ability to stand up and say, I am going to go about making life better for myself, I am responsible for me. This book is preaching that.

Not every path leads to a rosy outcome. Not every choice we make leads to lollipops and candy canes. You stumble, you fall, but ultimately you learn from it.

I know that I am lucky. I've had a very nice life. I am not naive in knowing this, but I really do believe that no one out there is so stuck in a ditch that they can't find their way out. Will the way out be easy? Will there be big bumps in the road? Yes but ultimately the choice is ours. Be it joining the military, learning some trade, taking classes at a community college and working towards a degree. There are options out there. I'm not saying everyone out there has to be a doctor or hold some fancy degree. But to be able to provide for themselves, to be able to stand on their own.

You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a 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 a 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 night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a sting 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.

I hate how there is an attitude of "something is owed to me" in this country. And this isn't a political thing, to me its a cultural problem and its fast becoming an epidemic. People are content to wait, wait for someone to step in and fix the problem for them instead of grabbing themselves by the bootstraps and doing it themselves. But that's not how it should work. Do people need a helping hand at times, yes of course, but they shouldn't be raised to depend on it.

Every child should be read this book from the time they are the dashes age. They should be read this book every night, until the idea that they deserve more then just waiting becomes some kind of second nature thinking. That they are good enough, smart enough, to tackle not only the paths that are clear but the ones that are scary. That when they get lost they will find themselves.

Every parent should read this book to their kids, with tears in their eyes, because they believe in their child and their child's potential. Because they know that life will not always be easy or clear cut, but that they are lessons that must be learned. And most importantly that it will be up to them to make their destiny.

And just so you know, really, I'm not naive, I don't think that reading this book will solve all the country's let alone the world's problems, I just wish it would.


  1. I agree that in the U.S. a lot of people don't have a sense of personal responsibility. It is definitely a cultural thing...we are a nation of excess and we feel entitled to basically everything. I think you can tell that by how litigious we are. Like that woman who burned herself on the McDonald's coffee. McDonald's OWES you money because you're too stupid to realize that coffee is hot?

    I'm rambling. But I get your point. And I got that book for my high school graduation.

  2. That is seriously one of my all time favorite books! It has always rung so true for me! I'm glad you finally felt the words last night! I think everyone should be able to receive the message the book talks about!

    I could go on and on about the book, but I won't! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I agree with you on the personal responsibility thing. I see the lack of it daily with people in the library; I think it's worse there because it IS a free service meant to help the community...but people seem to forget that we can only provide as many services as their tax dollars will stretch to pay. And they don't stretch very far when people refuse to pay their $600.00 fines.

    Also, Einstein was a squadron commander for Basic Training, and he used to have his flight leaders read that book to the basics. I always thought it was hysterical, but he wanted them to understand that there was no one to blame but themselves, as long as the had "feet in their shoes".

  4. I know exactly what you mean--I am always like "I want to write!" and then I sit down and it just comes out as verbal diarrhea. Hence why my blog is BORING.

    And I laughed at the pizza thing--I've seriously had a slice of pizza at work EVERY DAY for lunch for like, weeks. And on some days, ice cream. Hey, at our cafeteria, if you guess the price of the ice cream (it's based on weight) within a few pennies you get it for free! How can I resist?!

  5. I love this post! Very well said! It drives me crazy, this attitude my fellow Americans have. If only a book could solve this problem. It's a start, if anything!

  6. I LOVE this book. It's a wonderful graduation present for people. It's SO true, it's unbelievable.

  7. *standing ovation*

    You are so right!! My husband and I were talking about this very thing tonight. It's as if no one thinks they should have to sacrifice or struggle in any way to make good lives for themselves anymore. Everything should just be handed over (by the government, or parents and grandparents, etc...) And when it isn't just handed over, all the wailing away about being a victim ensues...Give me a break.

    Where did this whole attitude of entitlement come from anyway?

    The saddest part is just what you've touched on here- all of these "victims" in our country could find so much to be proud of if they were forced to stand on their own 2 feet and work towards their goals themselves. They're really the ones missing out in the end. Accomplishing great things through hard work and diligence is far more rewarding than just having everything handed to you if you ask me. It shapes you into a responsible, confident, empathetic human being that truly contributes to society instead of just taking from it...

    We all ultimately have control over our own lives here in this country. Disadvantaged or not, poor upbringing or not, you can still pull yourself up by your bootstraps and make something amazing out of your circumstances. All the opportunities are there for the taking...

    Ok, I could gripe about this all night. I'm supposed to be all peaches and rose petals, remember? ;)

    Anyway, I am so buying that book now!

  8. Dr. Seuss was wise!! Seriously not even trying to be funny.

    One of my fave quotes of all time is ----

    {{ Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. }}

    Words of wisdom right there.

  9. I have never read this book but I think I might. What a thought provoking blog...My dad defintely raised all eight of his children to understand that most things in life are not just handed to you so you have to go after them...So far that has been all that my lifes been about, hence my email address grabbin_life...Grabbing what I wanted or at least starting my feet in that direction. Thanks for the read!

  10. I love this post. You are so eloquent... and, yes, you are completely right. It seems that too many people go through life believing that success is owed to them by the world. And it brings nothing postive to those who believe it.

    I've never read that specific Dr. Seuss book. Clearly I need to get it.

  11. Great post, I couldn't agree with you more. Love the book and what it stands for. I was raised to stand on my own two feet and to take responsibility for my actions. I plan to raise my children the same way...

  12. *bravo*

    I have an entire collection of the good Dr. and he IS awesome. I have a poem in cross stitch in my kitchen by one and the same.

    Everything you said, couldn't agree more.

    jlc's quote is one of my absolute favorites as well.

  13. Hmm, yeah, I agree with this 100%. I have watched a couple shows where people were interviewed about the economy, and I was struck by how many of them were begging the president to save them in some way. Um, did they vote for Obama because they thought money would fall from the skies and they would be all taken care of? I am really starting to wonder...

  14. I think I will go out and buy it tomorrow because I am always trying to teach my boys that they need to chose their own paths and do for themselves. So many of their peers are given EVERYTHING they could possibly want and still it's not enough. It's hard to raise good kids in a world of BRATS!

  15. Well said. I'll have to make sure to get this one in my collection once we start having kids.

  16. The first thing I buy my child once I find out I'm pregnant is a book. For The Bear, I bought "Guess How Much I Love You". I just went to Borders last week and got "Oh The Places You'll Go" for baby 2 on the way. It's a kids book with an adult meaning.

  17. In theory, a great idea. For my kids and for your kids, wonderful. And yes, it is classic book. BUT, as a person who spent years working in schools that were drowning in the poverty, poverty is cyclical. Impovrished people rarely know how to get the same resources that you & I know are out there. It's a different world that has a different set of rules. It takes people like you and me going into those impovrished areas and helping. Teaching, mentoring, etc. And not just the kids...the parents who have never been out of the cycle of poverty. I think it's easy to say it needs to change - obviously it does. But I think we also have to put our money where our mouth is so to speak. you said yesterday, politically it's good to have friends that can agree to disagree......but it is a great story, and I need to get it out & read it to the girls soon!

  18. I love that book! (In fact, I like it so much that I have the quote on my blog :)

  19. LOVE that Dr. Suess book, one of my faves!!

  20. Love it! So very true and I will definitely have to get a copy. Have you checked how old your version is? On Glen Beck yesterday they were saying older Dr Suess books are being recalled because there was a bit of lead in the ink used to print the pages. Or something. He made it sound funnier and a bit more ridiculous than I ever could.

    I love the post and the message it conveys and I couldn't agree more!

  21. I love this post!! I know so many people who are waiting for something better to come. I personally can't stand waiting. My life is my responsiblitiy and if I want it better then I do something to make it better. I agree that people in this world believe they are "owed" everything. It really makes me sad for these people.

  22. Wow - I think I need to read this again. It's been too long and I've been "waiting" too much, myself.

    And now I can't wait to read this to my future children alllll the time!

  23. I love that book, my best friend gave it to me for our high school graduation.

    I read it to my second graders now. :)

    Love this post!

  24. Fabulous post. I know many people who actually give/have received this book as graduation presents from high school and/or college because it's very fitting.

    I also agree that I think there is a sense of entitlement in this country.

  25. Dr. Suess is a pretty brilliant guy. One of my favorite quotes comes from him: "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

    We are a country that thrives on excess and feelings of entitlement whether we've earned it or not. And as the years pass it just keeps getting worse.

  26. Like you, I was given this book for graduation and it is sitting in a box never been opened to read. I think I am going to go peak at it now.

    I feel fortunate that I was raised by a mother who is too proud to not be independant. And I am thankful I am going to marry a man who's job requires me to be independant. All this has taught me that only I can be responsible for myself.

  27. I'm not sure if I commented when you posted this but I just wanted you to know that after reading this post I went and bought the book for B, my soon to be husband.
    I think the book is a great reminder to adults as well as an inspiring book for children about overcoming obstacles and pushing forward.

    We read it together...

    The waiting pages seemed written for me and the part about going forward...

    "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."

    ...seems written just for him.

    So thank you for putting me on to such a great book that now means so much to both B and I. :-)



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