Dr. Seuss And Harsh Reality

It’s only a children’s story. Or is it?

Cover of "Fracture [Blu-ray]"

I remember watching Fracture, an excellent movie with one of the greatest actors of our age, and Ryan Gosling. There is a profound place in the movie where Gosling sits beside the bed of the victim and reads to her, “Oh The Places You’ll Go” while she is in a coma. I remember thinking at the time, this is a very disturbing story. Sure it starts out innocuous enough, but soon becomes dark and foreboding.

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
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

Harsh reality in a child’s book. Sometimes things are not going to go as you planned. Sometimes you will have hardship and pain. Sometimes…

You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
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.

Depression. Slumps. Reality. The way is not always marked and it is easy be bogged down in the quagmire.

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.

Some of us are in the waiting place right now. Waiting for something to change, for a situation to resolve itself. We are caught in circumstances which we cannot control and there seems to be no end in sight. It is hard to hope in such places, hard to believe that somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue. We are in the waiting place.

I’ve been in the waiting place. I’ve spent years there. You may know what I am talking about because you are there right now or are just coming out. Days and months wondering if there is ever going to be change, railing at God, prayers unanswered, dreams dashed. Time seems to stand still.

I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.

In counseling we talk about the pit of depression. The longer you go through depression the deeper it can become. People usually come see me when they are at their worst, and recovery takes months, even years.

Yes I’ve sat in the waiting place and honestly believed that life would never get better. Eventually you get to a place, while waiting there, where you don’t even feel much anymore. Gone is the anger, even the tears. You have cried yourself out. You feel nothing. And that is a dangerous place.

There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

Cover of "Oh, the Places You'll Go!"
Cover of Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

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.

Healing is about micro-change, baby steps, and almost imperceptible movement. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something. As I have alluded to many times, there are no magic pills, there is no “secret”. There is only perseverance and tenacity.

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 3 / 4 percent guaranteed.)

Winning is about showing up. The definition of success I ascribe to is “fall down seven times, get up eight”. That is the only way I was able to move forward. After all the crying, and the depression, the suicidal ideation and the self-medicating I realized that no one, no one at all, could fix me. I had to get up and walk.

Congratulations!
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.

OH!
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
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.

You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
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 you 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 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.

NO!
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 a guy!

Oh, the 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 can 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.

All Alone!
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 3 / 4 percent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

So…
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!

8 thoughts on “Dr. Seuss And Harsh Reality

  1. That’s where I am – the waiting place!!! I feel like I have been here for quite a while. I like how you mention the baby steps, although I wish my steps were the size of a giant’s foot.
    And I love Dr. Seuss. What a wonderful book that sounds so silly and yet so profound!! I am going to have to look for my copy and read it again!!

  2. The truly great children’s stories I’ve read, hold value and meaning to adults as well. Value that equals the simplicity of the concrete, silly, non-sensical and whimsical rhyme, for there is so much lovely merit in this. Perhaps one could say these stories hold a deeper meaning for the adults who read them, for we are able to perceive a quite different view with our perceptual lens…. Bravo, great post.

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