Oh, the Places You’ll Go! – My Graduation Edition!

We got invited to two graduation parties this year – yeah, we’re so cool – and the question of “What do you buy a graduate these days?” popped into our heads. I have no clue. Money? Can you buy money with money? Anyway, after running through the normal ideas (gift cards, cash, check, picture frame) I remembered an idea I had a couple of years back while reading a Dr. Seuss book to my kids. The book? “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” If you’re not familiar with the story then scroll down as I posted this masterpiece below. If you are familiar with it and/or love reading the words that come out of my fingers then read on.

As mentioned, I came across this masterpiece a couple of years back while reading to Lukas and Lia before bed. They had gotten the book from a friend of ours and as Lukas grabbed the book to read I thought, “Oh good, a quick rhyming nonsense Dr. Seuss book that will have me done in two minutes and them laying in bed in three.” Not so fast, halfway through the book I began listening to the words I was reading and realized that this book has a much deeper meaning to then some of Seuss’s other books (though “Hop on Pop” and “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” are classics). “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” is actually a story about life and its many challenges. I thought to myself, “This is the perfect book for a graduate!” When my kids graduated high school I would present them with this book about life! They’d be so thrilled!

We’ve read it countless times since then and the book continues to resonate in me.

So as I was running out of boring ideas for the lucky two graduates (who probably wondered why I got them a children’s book and why I didn’t go with our first option of a gift card) I thought about this book and bought it. They’ll thank me in 20 years when they realize the same thing with their kids.

Since I like to personalize my gifts I thought I would write something from my heart inside of it. I shared this idea with my ladies at work (yes, my ladies. I’m the only dude in the department so they are my ladies) and they asked if I was going to write something Dr. Seuss-like. The thought previously dashed in my head but since I had only a lunch break to come up with something I didn’t think I could pull it off.

Well the writing bug inside of me clicked and I was able to come up with something. I was somewhat proud of what I wrote (mostly because it rhymed and it took me about 25 minutes). So I’ve decided to share it all with you. Below is my poem to the graduating class of 2011 (and beyond) followed by the transcript of the book. Congratulations Graduates!

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” Poem (OK, so the title wasn’t that great, but I swear it gets a little better)

You’re probably thinking, “What?! A Dr. Seuss Book?!” 
But there’s a deeper story inside, just take a look.
I came across the story while reading it to Lukas and Lia.
It was a couple of years back, and it gave me an idea!
When the kids were to graduate I’ll give them this gift
A story that might steer them and won’t set them adrift
It’s a story of options and decisions you might make
Heck, it’s a short, rhyming story of life for goodness sake!
I know you’re not five and I know it’s an easy read
But there might be a time when it will give you what you need
There might be times where you’re feeling down and out
Well pick up the book and it will show you the route.
Congrats on the Graduation; you’ve come a long way!
The first day of the rest of your life, as the book says, “Today is YOUR day!”
I’ll keep up the rhyming, I have one last thing to say
Life is full of changes but remember to always have fun and play!
“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”
By Dr. Seuss
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’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 a 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 when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

You’ll be on your 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 across 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 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 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.

No! 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 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 forget 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 ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

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