Friday, May 7, 2010

You're Off and Away

It's graduation weekend at the college I work at. It's always such a bittersweet time for me, I love the college students I work with, I love getting to know them, listening to their dreams, calming their fears and frankly just being in relationship with them. But then darn it all, they decide after 4 years or maybe only two that it's time for them to leave. Why do they do that? Why am I in a profession where each year I have to say good-bye to some really awesome people. But this is what's supposed to happen and as hard as it is to say good-bye, I am excited about what lies ahead for these graduates.

I've always been a fan of Dr. Seuss, during graduate school I lived on Forest Park Ave just a few short blocks from Mulberry Street. "And to Think That I saw it on Mulberry Street" was the first book he published. Forest Park itself also has a place in Dr. Seuss history. It is one of the largest municipal parks in the United States and includes a zoo. Dr. Seuss often spent time there studying and drawing elephants. My graduate school roommate and I loved this park and once became very, very lost among its 700 + acres. Perhaps that is a story for another blog.

As they cross the platform and collect their diploma's I wish I could hand them each another gift, "Oh The Places You'll Go" by Dr. Seuss. I realize that this is not exactly an original idea but I've worked with enough students and alumni to know that this particular book is full of wisdom

Graduation is a new beginning with lots of excitement ahead. But it's also about choices we have and decisions we have to make. Choices! This is so liberating for some and absolutely terrifying for others. But as Dr. Seuss reminds us, even when we make bad choices we are a resilient bunch, it's okay to make a wrong choice, we'll bounce back and we can learn so much about ourselves from mistakes that we've made. He also teaches us about patience. This is tough one and I'm afraid for this year's crop of graduates they may need to be very patient, it's a tough job market. My advice to these students is don't let that scare you, work at what you love, even if you don't get paid for it. Volunteer with an organization that you believe in, serve others, network, stretch yourself, make a difference! The first step is usually the hardest but remember "Kid, You'll Move Mountains!"

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 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 then things start to happen,
don't worry. Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.


You'll be on y our 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 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
that Bang-ups
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 your 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 cross 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 the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the 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 string 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.

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 as 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 foget 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.)


be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
You're off the Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!


  1. That book makes me weepy. Lovely blog. Shouldn't it be on life's Mary way, however? :)

  2. Thanks Holly, I debated that for a very long time, but decided that I liked Merry better. Love your blog too!