As we come to a close of this most unusual school year, many of you are coming to the close of your high school or college career in a most unusual way. The current health crisis and the recent violence that has rocked our country, have no doubt added even more stress than usual. I thought perhaps, it might be appropriate to revisit a simple parable of life, entitled, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Seuss.
As this school year ends, many of you may be graduating and heading to high school or college or the work place in the months ahead. You’ll all be making that important transition to the next phase of life in a time of great uncertainty. In fact, no one really knows what the next steps to “normalcy” will be. Perhaps reflecting on some of the words of Dr. Seuss may make that transition easier or at least a little more amusing.
While typical of Dr. Seuss’ writing style, this book was written for an older audience. In the typical sing-songy rhyme, the good doctor points out many of the important lessons of what will follow as many of you venture on in life. In this story, I believe, much can be learned. It’s all about going out and finding your way in life, weathering difficulties, being in charge of and taking responsibility for your life and how it turns out. It begins:
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.*
Of course, we hope you know that you are the one who will choose the direction of your life. Yes, the current environment is certainly a challenge, but in any case, life is choice. You can let it happen to you or you can experience it on your own terms. We parents only hope that we’ve instilled the values that will act as signposts along the way. But ultimately, you make each decision.
Sometimes you’ll choose the right way and sometimes the wrong way. Through it all, however, I hope the adults and friends in your life will be there for you. You will, of course, head down a wrong path or two (we all do) and you’ll occasionally find some not so good streets.
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
You’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.*
As you transition on to the next phase of your life, you will attempt to do your best but it won’t always be easy.
Except when you don’ t
Because, sometimes, you won’t.*
Try hard as you may to avoid those bumps you’ll hit some along the road. You’ll be tested and tempted as you move through these years toward adulthood.
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.*
You may even lose your way and end up “in a useless place.”
And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?*
The road may be frightening and long and you may not want to go on. You may yearn for the “good old” days when everything seemed to be much simpler. A time when there was no Coronavirus, when there was no violence in the streets. Ultimately, however, you will learn to cope with life’s ups and downs, and that “slumps, lurches, and waiting places happen” to every Tom, Dick, and Mary.
Sometimes, because of the road you choose, you may feel that you are going it alone. Take those times of aloneness to really learn about yourself.
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
You’ll be quite a lot.
On and on you will hike
and I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
Whatever they are.*
Remember, that with prayer and with Jesus by your side, even though that thought may now seem the least cool thing to think about, you will be able to get through. Remember, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that you and God together cannot get through. Just keep that one thought in your mind. We can’t do things on our own.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
Kid, you will move mountains!*
So as you move on, remember that “a million miles begins with a step or two.” Take one step at a time. Don’t be in a rush to get to the finish line. Enjoy the scenes along the way. Stay faithful, be caring and loving and enjoy these days of your youth.
There’s no doubt that you are all dealing with something that no one could have foretold. But we have all gone through difficult times before and we can get through this also — together, with God’s help.
In a recent letter to our parish youth, my pastor, Father David Frederici, wrote, “Sometimes it is difficult to imagine that God is really present. There is so much darkness in our world, so many problems, so much hurt, how can He really be here? Where is He? In 1 John 4, we are told very simply that “God is love.” John isn’t trying to come up with a bumper sticker or twitter post, but is telling us about the very nature of God. He makes Himself known in the experience of love. In addition, we find Him in beauty, goodness and truth.”
So, hang in there. Keep connected to family, friends and God.
A safe transition to all who are moving on. You’ll get through it OK!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So — get on your way!*
Anchor columnist Frank Lucca is a deacon in the Diocese of Fall River assigned to St. Mary’s Parish in Dartmouth and a campus minister at UMass Dartmouth. He is married to his wife of 42 years, Kristine, and the father of two daughters and their husbands, and five grandsons! So blessed!
*From Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the Places You Will Go!”