For those expecting an in-depth anthropological analysis, or something about evolution or health disparities, or whatever, this post will probably be a let down. But it’s my blog, and I can write about whatever I want.

One of the books I enjoy reading to my sons is “Oh the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss. I’m sure that some of the meaning is lost on them, since they’re so young. They’re probably staring at the bizarre Seussian art (is that a word?). But when we complete the book, we talk about what it means. I’m struck by its simple brilliance and hope that some of the lessons seep in for them, particularly the ones about perseverance.

In academia, there is a tendency to analyze and carve up details until we’re blue in the face. That’s important in order to try to get things right and avoid naïve interpretations.

Sometimes, however, it’s nice to turn to the confidence of folk wisdom. Even if it comes from children’s books.


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

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 great care and great tact 

and remember that Life’s

a Great Balancing Act.

Just never forget to be dextrous and deft.

And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And you will succeed?

Yes! You will, indeed!

(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed. ) 


4 thoughts on “Perseverance

  1. Nice to know your human and not an automated message. I too remember reading Dr Seuss to my kids. Don’t think they learnt much about perseverance but Seuss was always great fun. And when occasionally people would address me as kids would ask why if i was a doctor I couldn’t fix their sniffles. I would tell them I’m not that kind of doctor. ‘And what kind of doctor are you, then, like Doctor Seuss?’ If only…

    Dr Seuss is certainly good medicine.

    • Oh, I’m very human, and I have the right combination of fallibility, insecurity, and bipedal anatomy to prove it.

      I haven’t had the “different types of doctors” conversation with my kids yet. One day. For now, their understanding is that I teach big kids, which is fine with me.

      We definitely see eye-to-eye on Dr. Seuss.

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