Travel tips from Dr. Seuss

steveʼs column

“You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” – Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) “Hit the road, Jack…” – Percy Mayfield

Advancing age brings not a chance to re-write Dr. Seuss, but opportunity to re-read him. Particularly his travel advice, as I graduated from high school too soon to discover “O, the Places You’ll Go!” not sanctioned by the military or the Peace Corps. Years passed, spent in more stationary pursuits of college and gainful employment, until I yielded to a friend’s call of the open road during a slow day of Minnesota ice fishing. I submitted my resignation the following day and departed shortly after. A voice in my head – later identified as one of several – spoke to me, but the words were jumbled until recently: “I’m leaving now to go and find myself. If I should return before I get back, please ask me to wait,” according to Anonymous. I returned six weeks, 11 states and 7,000 miles later, somewhat ready to orbit parallel universes, but responsibility/uncertainty played trump cards. During that first extended venture from familiar surroundings, I kept a mental hand on the door with valid reasons for returning home. Thankfully, maturity’s shelf life expired and other opportunities for adventuring arose during ensuing decades. After all, Dr. Seuss urged: “Oh, the things you can find if you don’t stay behind…. It’s opener there in the wide open air.” Presently, retirement offers another chance to run away from home. Only the telemarketers and pollsters are apt to give chase, with those threats averted as soon as one turns off the cell phone. Retirement also affords opportunity to catch up on my reading. Often, my train of thought frequently leaves the station without me, but Dr. Seuss’ wisdom enables me to reach rendezvous points before my imagination runs away. I suspect, by his own observations, that this 20th-century sage realized education could be wasted on the young, only to re-emerge completely relevant decades later: “Writing for children is murder. An entire chapter must be boiled down to a paragraph. Every word must count,” he noted, adding (probably with great relief): “Adults are only obsolete children.” Travel remains a popular topic, from verbal to literary to video, and some of the most earnest travel advice I received came from an individual who seldom ventured 10 miles from home. Sadly, for some, “O, the Places You’ll Go!” are only minutes away with last call before midnight. As often noted, places to travel remain largely the same, but over time, modes of transportation vary greatly: “You can go by foot. You can go by cow…. You can go on skates. You can go on skis. You can go in a hat. But please go. Please! I don’t care. You can go by bike. You can go on a Zike-Bike if you like…. You can go on stilts. You can by fish. You can go in a Crunkcar if you wish….” And those afore-mentioned parallel universes might be reachable: “In the places I go there are things that I see that I never could spell if I stopped with a ‘Z’…. If you never did, you should. These things are fun and fun is good…. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope…and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.” After years of rambling, I have learned quality of companions makes all the difference. Dr. Seuss cautioned me after the fact, but experience remains a great teacher: “You ought to be thankful a whole heaping lot, for the places and people you’re lucky you’re not. You’ll get mixed up of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go.” Enough said when recalling head-shaking experiences on two continents. These days, as Dr. S notes: “What makes that journey worthwhile is the people we choose to travel with, the people we hold close as we take steps into the darkness and blindly make our way through life. They’re the people that matter.” Time’s ever-accelerating passage reminds that waiting belongs to the younger set, and according to Pat Buttram, waiting too long carries the threat of kidney trouble. Dr. Seuss waxes more poetic: “How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness, how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” Not too late, I hope, for this week’s trek to California, and more adventuring down the road.

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Steve Lang keeps on trucking with Dr. Seuss: “Today is gone. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”