Dr. Seuss Was a Major Force in My Earliest Forays into Literature
Thanks to my mom, I’ve been an avid reader since I was about 4. She took my sister and me on regular forays to Lewis for Books, a small, independent book store owned by a husband and wife who, to my young eyes, seemed as old as the dinosaurs. I suspect they were much younger than they seemed to me, but still, the store is long gone, which is sad for future readers. Mr. and Mrs. Lewis introduced me to books I added to my growing list of favorites, and later to those of my daughters.
I learned a lot from every book I read, whether it was horses, foreign countries, or, in the case of Dr. Seuss, how to be a good person.
The Man Behind the Moniker
Theodore Seuss Geisel, known to the world as Dr. Seuss was a man of many talents. Author, poet, illustrator, cartoonist—he had all the bases covered. Though never a parent himself, he knew how to entertain children and give them a reason to want to read. His stories have a rhythm and tone that’s irresistible to children of all generations, and many have been turned into films and plays.
Though much of his work took him into the political arena, especially in the years which encompassed WWII, he had, in my opinion, a remarkable insight into social issues and a knack for simplifying them so they were both entertaining and enlightening for young readers.
Whether it was seeing the difference between right and wrong in the disobedient and often destructive Cat in the Hat, the inclusiveness and recognition that different doesn’t mean wrong in Horton Hears a Who, or our responsibility for the damage we do to our environment in The Lorax, it’s impossible not to consider the consequences of our behavior while reading the works of Dr. Seuss.
Inspired to Write Because of What I Read
Although the Dick and Jane books were still the staple when I was in elementary school (and prompted my infamous declaration: “This book is boring! I’m going to be a writer when I grow up!”) Dr. Seuss wrote in a way which not only used words at the right level for early readers (Cat in the Hat used only 236 common words), but injected lessons in a way which taught without pressure.
Even today, when I watch or read The Lorax I see how both collective and individual greed and lack of consideration for limited resources hurt us all, and think twice about making choices which exacerbate our already suffering Earth and society.
I’ve also learned a lot in recent years about how isolating ourselves in the mistaken belief we have every single resource we need to thrive and succeed within ourselves is hurtful and harmful, not only to ourselves but to everyone we deprive of our own gifts. Dr. Seuss was all about working together, even if, at first what you created was mischief.
He also taught me some things are worth the risk, whether that risk be physical, or emotional. Following the common school of thought may be safer, but there’s no room for growth, and what’s common isn’t always what’s right.
Above All, We Must Be True to Ourselves
I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my 6 decades and counting. But I’ve also learned a lot of wonderful lessons. Some have been painful, usually because they were thrust upon me when I was most resistant. Others have been life-changing, like learning that my mother’s ability to express her vulnerability (willingly or not ) made her a stronger person than my dad who lived his entire life encased in an unyielding suit of armor.
In fact, it was by taking up the pen just as Dr. Seuss did that I learned the most about myself and the lessons which had created the person I looked at in the mirror every morning and night. My work may not waft through the brain with the flow of music; the point and counterpoint of poetry, but it reflects my own, true voice, just as his did. In fact, it’s because of Dr. Seuss that I do allow my own personal voice to shine brightly. He taught me I needn’t pretend to be or believe anything that isn’t genuine. He made me realize (though it took a number of years for it to truly sink in) that I am perfect the way I am.
But most of all, he taught me that being my unique, quirky, authentic self is exactly what I’m supposed to be, and that I needn’t make apologies to those who don’t understand. They have their path, and I have mine. Neither one is more right than the other. We’re all exactly where we’re supposed to be, and have our own set of lessons to learn. Just because I’m not as far ahead as some people with some courses of study doesn’t mean I can’t be further along in others, and in fact, in all likelihood, I am. As a result, we all have things we can teach others, and things we can (and should) learn from them too.
Using My Early Exposure to Dr. Seuss as a Compass for Life
Because he opened my mind to the possibilities, I continue to grow, even decades after I read his work on a regular basis. Because his messages were so powerful and applicable, I revisit them almost daily. But the one which resonates most strongly these days is one of social consciousness. I know it’s an area where I’m still lacking and put my daughter (a person half my age) up as an example of following a path towards a more conscious, aware, compassionate way of life.
In fact, she has been motivated by her own early exposure to the good Doctor. She used one of his quotes in her wedding, engraving it on a piece of tree trunk for her ring bearer to carry in lieu of the standard satin cushion.
She had one of her favorites tattooed on her leg along with a truffula tree to remind her every day that success is simply putting one foot in front of the other.
So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.
If you ask me, that’s about the best life-lesson we can have, and pass on to our children and grandchildren.
Gratitude, Too, Is Seussical
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful to my mom and Mr. and Mrs. Lewis who introduced me, not only to Dr. Seuss, but to literature as a whole. I’ve taken many a journey around the world and back (and even to the stars) between the covers of a book.
- I’m grateful for Linda Clay who has inspired me to get on with my writing and stop wasting precious time.
- I’m grateful for Trello which helps me keep on track with my writing, just as MyFitnessPal helps me keep on track with my diet and exercise routines. Tools are good things, especially when memory isn’t enough.
- I’m grateful for balance in my life. I switch easily between creative and analytical, self-care and work, recognizing it’s all necessary to make me a well-rounded and contributing member of society.
- I’m grateful for abundance; inspiration, motivation, challenges, my disappearing comfort zone, confidence, baby steps, successes both small and grand, friendship, joy, love, happiness, opportunities to help others, early mornings and late nights, peace, health, prosperity, and philanthropy.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward.