March 2 marks the 110th anniversary of the birth of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known to the world as that whimsical wonder of a wordsmith, Dr. Seuss. And while his birthday has been adopted as the annual date for National Read Across America Day – a reading initiative created by the National Education Association – we’d like to honor the day with some life lessons for which we can thank the good doctor.
Consider the following.
1. Self-pity is an unnecessary indulgence
Be grateful you’re not in the forest in France.
Where the average young person just hasn’t a chance,
To escape from the perilous pants eating plants.
But your pants are safe, you’re a fortunate guy,
You ought to be shouting how lucky am I.
Some people are much more,
Oh, ever so much more,
Oh, muchly much-much more unlucky than you!
2. Be flexible … and appreciate the strange birds
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.
Plus, strange birds!
3. Philosophy doesn’t have to be hard
Today you are you,
That is truer than true.
There is no one alive who is youer than you.
Bonus lesson: Tossing out the rules of proper spelling and grammar can result in wonderfully expressive language.
4. Reading has its rewards
The more that you read, the more things you will know,
The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.
5. It’s up to us to give a voice to the voiceless
I am the Lorax.
I speak for the trees,
I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.
6. Quirkiness is next to godliness
Why fit in when you were born to stand out?
7. The universe is profoundly mysterious
“You mean…” Horton gasped, “you have buildings there, too?”
“Oh, yes,” piped the voice. “We most certainly do.”
“I know,” called the voice, “I’m too small to be seen but I’m mayor of a town that is friendly and clean. Our buildings, to you, would seem terribly small but to us, who aren’t big, they are wonderfully tall.”
While the takeaway for most adults from "Horton Hears a Who" is about defending the little people and listening to your heart; for some of us, at a wee age too young to grasp the infinite nature of the universe, Horton had much more profound lessons to offer. Like: There could be a whole world in a speck of dust; within that world, there could be another world in an even tinier speck of dust; ad infinitum. And conversely, perhaps we are living in a speck of dust, and that speck of dust exists in another speck of dust, which exists in another … and so on. Because really, you’re never too young to be blown away by the utterly confounding thing that is the universe.
8. Being open-minded can be surprisingly wonderful
I like green eggs and ham!
I do!! I like them, Sam-I-am!
On "Saturday Night Live" shortly after Seuss' death in 1991, civil rights activist Jesse Jackson injected the "green eggs" lesson with a bit of minister’s fervor, which you can watch in the video below.
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