Ahhhhh, good old Dr Seuss. Put your hand up if you’re a fan? I’m aware that he’s not to everyone’s taste, but there’s no denying he’s spicing up the reading stakes in our household again of late (see what I did there).
His books have the ability to tease and challenge our imaginations, our tongues and for me most importantly, our morals.
One of my son’s favourite books is ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go!’ Yes, it’s the rhyme and pictures which grab his attention, but for me, it’s the moral message which fills my heart with hope each time I read it to him.
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in 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”
Dr Seuss from ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go!’
The idea that we are the ones who control, choose and direct where we go, may not sound very revelatory, but it’s a truth I often fail to recall when juggling the demands of Life.
Take this morning. We awoke to the sound of two screaming toddlers desperate to test their vocal chords out against the walls separating each other (and my patience it would seem). Pretty sure the neighbours we’re tempted to holler back, but if they did we couldn’t hear it above the chaos that is most mornings in our household.
Banshee-like boys chasing each other, food thrown to the floor, drinks spilt and protests against nappy changes and teeth cleaning. It’s a battlefield and I’m spent, all before 7am. It’s the beginning of a new day and I feel like these little creatures are dictating my direction.
It’s a little harder to face the remainder of the day when you’ve gotten off on the wrong foot, so-to-speak.
The clock has a nasty presence in this daily routine too, dictating not only when things happen, but always with such high priority. Get kids organised, get to work, get kids from school, get dinner on the go….Go, go, go!
Choices, well of a positive and personal nature, seem to play a minor role in each of these actions and herein lies the shame. Not to mention the cause of much angst for me and those around me.
A few years ago I was introduced (at work funnily enough) to the ‘Fish Philosophy’. The philosophy is simple and made up of four guiding principles.
Dr Seuss really might as well have come up with this himself, especially considering his affinity with fish. But no, it’s based on a model used at a famous Fish Market in Seattle.
I am always amazed at how much influence these four simple ideas can have on me, my day and those around me, when I choose to act on them.
The idea of ‘choice’ when it comes to our attitude each and every day, is powerful. Attitude is everything and often the first thing people notice about you.
Don’t get me wrong, there are days like this morning when I am slightly too distracted to flick on the ‘Choose your attitude’ switch. But once I’ve got the jug boiling for a cuppa and the boys have food in their mouths, I try to remember that I do have a choice and know I’ll be better for it if I make the decision to reboot my attitude.
The concept of ‘play’ is simple in its very nature. Have fun. See the silly side of things. Goodness knows Toddlers and young kids have enough silliness to go round.
On the subject of humour though, Dr Seuss once said,
“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.”
Amen to that.
I’m trying to get better at this. As a thinker I generally overanalyse most things, including why my toddler feels the need to remove his own nappy each morning and splatter his cot with poo. He finds it funny, why can’t I?
As for ‘making someone’s day’, well I figure if you’ve got the first two principles in action, then you’re making your own day a hell of a lot easier for starters.
It’s not all about you though, but it does follow that if you’re feeling happy and in control, then you’re going to be that person who is determined to ‘share the love’.
Finally, to just ‘be there’, present and aware of what is happening around you, more often than not, can help put things into perspective.
My boys might frustrate me with their constant issuing of demands and my ‘to do’ list on any given day is ever growing, but if I really listen and just stop, sometimes I realise that none of it matters that much. What does, is just being there for them (and me with a well-deserved cup of tea in hand).
At this point, when the end of the day draws to a close I am thankful that their little souls crave a story. I have to ‘be there’ and ‘play’ if I’m to nail those character voices and I feel pretty complete knowing it ‘makes their day’.
So thanks for the friendly reminder Dr Seuss,
of the places one can go,
If we try to remember the choices we have,
Then maybe our life will glow.
(Wow, pretty lame I know but I’m in the Seuss zone folks)