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.
Today I come to you with a trip, my love for Dr. Seuss, and a valuable life lesson from Oh, the Places You’ll Go!. It was his final work and one of his best-selling as it is a firm favourite as a graduation present. From beginning to end, the book thrills and delights. Even when I first read it at the age of 20 I could tell it was something special, something beyond ‘just’ a kid’s book. It is a tale of life. It follows an unnamed character as they adventure, and it is honest. It has the bad times as well as the good. For me, today was one of the good ones.
We, myself, my fiancée, and my friends Tom, Ray, and Yana, went to Czech Switzerland. At first I thought this might be a joke name, something slangy and self-deprecating. Even as a former visitor of the Scottish Highlands I will say it surprised me with how good it was. It had impressive vistas, a verdant forest, and more large rock formations than you could shake a decent sized stick at. The trip all started when Ray and Tom discussed it and sent word around. Never one to pass up a good day trip, I eagerly went for it.
I had been getting stressed. The heat of the city, the mugginess of the oppressive air, and the occasional existential question. A trip to the wilderness was needed. Why could I find not relaxation in the city, you ask? I will let the good doctor explain.
And the next page!
And this is why I love Dr. Seuss. He uses the right amount of space to express things. “It’s opener there in the wide open air”, indeed!
Some stress relief on a moderate hike seemed a capital idea.
The crew was made up of other English teachers. About half were American, two from Scotland, and a Russian. All of them are here for different reasons, but I tend not to discuss why other people are here. It hits me as too personal a question, even if I know someone well. They are an interesting crowd. The first thing to know about Ray is that’s he’s giant, and the next is that he’s very warm and personable. Tom hits me like a father-in-waiting, at that cool sepia toned photo stage of life that all our dads went through, when they were just cool dudes and not fathers. Still tells a million dad jokes, though. Yana hits me as one of the most inquisitive people I’ve ever met. She must have asked me 50 questions, mostly about things or people I hate. I like talking and hate quite a lot so there were no specific problems here.
On the train here we talked shop and life. As we were leaving the greater city area, I took out my copy of Dr. Seuss and started reading. This developed into a round, each person saying a page. Poor Yana got stuck with darker pages almost every time. On the dark pages, the story gets a little sad as Dr. Seuss essentially says, “You know what kid? Life may suck and get bumpy from time to time. You might not be good at everything, but with the right attitude and mindset, you’ll go far.” It’s a valuable lesson for kids and for adults.
This was the last page Yana read to us on her round. It is my favourite page in the book. To me, it says that even if you aren’t the best, you should push yourself and see what you manage. Most of the time the result is good and you might end up like this guy.
Pulling a damn mountain with a smile on your face like it’s no issue. We made it up the hill in good time and look at the sights from the top. The Doctor was right, it is certainly open.
The trip itself was not difficult and end to end it all went well. Still, there’s a brilliant sense of accomplishment that I think we all feel when we do something big on a weekend. It was also a brilliant antidote to the difficulty of city life. In a way, it was a perfect encapsulation of Dr. Seuss’s main point; life has its challenges and difficulties but if you keep on going you have a good chance of doing something amazing. As I go forward in my attempt to write something new every day this month, this lesson will surely be of use.
Extra words: We saw this big rock on our climb. It was so big that everyone had put sticks next to it to hold it up.
Each of these sticks alone stands little chance of stopping the stone from falling, but with the collective effort of enough people they can hold back the tide. Here was my addition.