“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” is a book written and illustrated by famed children’s author Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel, 1904-1991), an American writer, cartoonist, animator, book publisher, and artist best known for creating several of the most popular children’s books of all time.

Published on January 22, 1990, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” was the last of Dr. Seuss’s works published in his lifetime.  Addressing the challenges of the journey thru life, it remains one of my favorite and inspiring motivational pieces, and has fittingly been included in many graduations and commencements over the years.

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” — by Dr. Seuss

Congratulations!
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 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 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 the 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,
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 a 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 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

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

My favorite reading of this Dr. Seuss piece was performed by an amazing and colorful group of people at the Burning Man gathering in 2011.   Once a year, tens of thousands of people from all walks of life gather in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert (also known as “the playa”) for Burning Man, to create Black Rock City, a temporary metropolis dedicated to Community, Art, Self-expression, and Self-reliance. They depart one week later, having left no trace whatsoever. 

Hope you enjoyed this encouraging message from Dr. Seuss.  Now — today is your day, so get on your way!