‘Oh, Think of the Places You’ll (Hopefully) Go!’

By Teddy Allen

As we wrap 2021, which will go down in history as no one’s favorite year ever, especially if you who won the lottery but couldn’t collect it because you didn’t wear a mask to the presentation of the Big Fake Check and therefore were executed on site, probably by being beaten to death with the Big Fake Check, we must stress this:

Everything is going to be OK. Eventually. (I think? I’m pretty sure. Maybe … )

But — and the “but” is important here because the longer you live, the more you realize there is always a “but” (literally) or a “butt” (figuratively) that can mess things up. For everybody.

 And by “mess things up,” I mean turn the world upside down. When grownups get involved — especially grownups with egos the size of any hemisphere you wish to choose — it is never a good thing.

Never never ever.

The hair-pulling-out frustration of the past two years has been that the people who have titles and are supposed to be “in charge” of such things and advising us — WE are paying them, for goodness’ sake — keep contradicting themselves with their scientific instructions, then them blaming US for not following orders.

I don’t mind “following the science” if they can tell me what the actual science is. I just don’t want to follow THEM. If science could speak for itself, then we’d be getting somewhere.

But it can’t, so we are stuck with the usual suspects, regular people in high places — remember, they are regular, make-mistakes people — who keep changing their minds. I realize we live in the most fluid situation ever; it would just be nice if once in a while, these Important People who act they Know Everything would be less dramatic in their relaying of information and would, now and then, say something like, “Uh, I was wrong.” We’d even settle for, “I could possibly be wrong.”

Or if they would laugh once in a while … either at themselves or at this sometimes-happy, sometimes-heartbreaking situation. At least then we could tell whether or not they’re robots.

Wouldn’t that be refreshing?

All that to say I am glad Dr. Seuss passed away in 1991 at the rich old age of 87 and is not around to see this. He was a man of few words because he wrote for children. The Cat in the Hat, which I have read at least 2,457 times, and I still have my original, colored-in copy to prove it; GREAT book — is 1,626 words long. (That’s roughly two Teddy columns.) It uses just 236 different words, and the two longest words are only two syllables.

Like me, it is almost 65 years old, having been published in March of 1957. (I am only three or four syllables/years behind.) Unlike me, it is still a source of rich joy.

But Dr. Seuss could not have explained the past two years with just 236 words. Though he was a working man’s genius, he’d have needed to invent a whole other alphabet to sum up 2021, which, to quote an old Christmastime favorite, Is Beginning to Look a Lot Like 2020.

His final book was published by Random House in 1990. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! repeats his constant theme of encouragement to young people (and their parents?), a message to inspire and find the success that lies within. Dr. Seuss was always trying.

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.

Except not so much in these pandemic times, which are now endemic times, which the higher-ups are having trouble admitting. Sigh … Been a tough time for everyone. But as we’ve nervous-laughed our way through it, together, though brow-beaten most every day, here we are on the brink of a New Year.

So far, so good. Pretty shaky!, but so far, so good.

And no matter what the smarty pants people too proud to check their egos at the door say, Dr. Seuss was right:

You’re off to great places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting.

So … get on your way!

Contact Teddy at teddy@latech.edu


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