2018-06-12

"Oh, The Places You'll Go" Addendum


During this time of graduations and send-offs, Dr. Suess's "Oh, The Places You'll Go" is especially popular. It's also strikingly individualistic. It is addressed to "you," and describes "your" future as one of solitary challenges.
"You're on your own,"
it says on the second page. In the world of the book other people are scarcely alluded to, and when they are, they seem to exist only for the purpose of being bested:
"You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead. . . .
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don't . . . "
There will be bumps and slumps along the way -- and while
"un-slumping yourself is not easily done,"
there's no mention of friendship and the support of other people in helping us through those difficulties.

The illustrations feature "you" in barren cityscapes bereft of other people, heading out of town into an equally uninhabited countryside, and standing all alone at difficult and nonsensical choice points. (The nonsense, of course, is what is most delightful about Seuss, though when combined with prevalent solitude it comes across as rather bleak.)

The book mentions loneliness:
"All Alone! Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something you'll be quite a lot."
This loneliness will be scary, it says, but rather than urging the cultivation of friendships, as would seem natural, the book only says loneliness will make you not want to go on. But "on you will go," anyway.

The reward for your solitary perseverance is that "Kid, you'll move mountains." Why the mountains shouldn't stay where they were isn't addressed. There's no indication that your "success" would do anything to make the world any better.

The "jaunty, upbeat journey encourages perseverance" but not relationship. It's all about success (which is "98 and three-quarters percent guaranteed"), and not about connection.

To make up for this lack, I humbly offer the addendum below. I welcome your further additions in the "Comments" -- in anapestic tetrameter couplets, if possible!
Doctor Seuss laid it out – the good doc got it right.
You will soar through bright days – and you’ll struggle dark nights.

What he failed to mention, no, he said not a word,
is you’re NOT on your own. That would be too absurd.

Life is for friendship, community, love:
The people, the beings, that you most think of.

He said you’d be lonely – that’s probably true.
You’ll feel heartsick, despairing, and anxious, and blue.
These feelings you’ll have tell you something that matters:
That friends make you whole when your heart is in tatters.

Oh, the places you’ll go, you won’t go alone.
(I’m not talking ‘bout Facebook, or swiping right on your phone)
The companions you’ll find, and the love that awaits you --
That's the besty-best part of where this life takes you.

Success feels nice, and failure feels sad –
Of both, you’ll have plenty, the good and the bad.
There’s Community, too – the folks who don’t see you
For mountains you moved, but for just how you be you.

Who you will be is such fun to be scheming.
WHOSE you will be is what gives it all meaning.

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