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Dr Seuss' lockdown advice

Theodor Geissel [1904- 1991] - famously known as Dr. Seuss and beloved children’s author - was undeniably an ‘influencer’ way before his time, and decades before the invention of the word itself.

His witty and nonsensical advice, zany tongue twisters, fantastical characters, and whimsically rhythmic tales have delighted children all over the world for generations. After all, ‘from there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere.’

Dr Seuss may not have lived through a COVID-19 pandemic and our current lockdowns, but he lived through two World Wars, the Spanish Flu of 1918, and the Great Depression (just for starters). So his memorable advice - much of it captured on the pages of story books - may perhaps hold some subtle sageness to get us through lockdown today. In fact this is exactly what Dr Seuss would say: ‘Congratulations! Today is your day!’

After getting our heads around an initial 21-day lockdown countdown with some sort of positivity, it is only natural to feel the slump of heavy heartedness as a further lockdown extensions and restrictionshave been ongoing. Dr Seuss, the realist, has a phrase for how we are all feeling: ‘Everything stinks till it is finished.’

‘When you’re in a slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.’

Dr Seuss observed the world rightly: ‘It’s a troublesome world. All the people who are in it are troubled with troubles almost every minute. You are right to be thankful, a whole heaping lot, for the places and people you're lucky you're not.’

The world is full of troubles. It is broken. COVID-19 is today’s trouble that currently holds us hostage. But prior to this unwelcome gatecrasher, many of the world’s troubles already seemed insurmountable; the threat of wars, the horrors of religious persecution, the pangs of hunger, the beast of discrimination, the gruelling journeys of refugees, the diagnosis of cancer, and the tears of loss. Discontent lurks in the corners of our hearts, hijacking our mindsets. ‘Un-slumping’ is certainly not easily done.

But then Dr, Seuss, the skilful storyteller, steps into the gap and transforms our mindset and perspective.

‘I’m glad we had the times together just to laugh and sing a song, seems like we just got started, and then before you know it, the times we had together were gone.’

As national lockdowns confine families to the four walls of their homes, 24/7 and disrupting our economy, we feel disconnected, isolated and disheartened. These are not normal circumstances and they can be trying, especially when there are children to keep busy and entertained. And that is why we need to be reminded that these are times we will look back on, hopefully with a mental album of good memories.

While on lockdown, remember this: ‘Children want the same things we want; to laugh, to be challenged, to be entertained and delighted.’ Memories are made of this.

The one silver lining in the dark cloud of this COVID-19 shadow is the extra time you have - what an opportunity to read more! Because here is a famous Dr Seuss truism: ‘You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.’

But his wisdom extends even further…

‘The more you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.’

So obviously, with restrictions on travel, this wisdom is not to be taken literally. But what a wonderful sentiment - even in lockdown. Books will take you to places you have never been. Your sense of wanderlust can be satisfied through the pages of books. Your sense of curiosity can be nurtured, and your thinking can blossom and grow through reading, listening to audiobooks, taking online courses and registering for free webinars. What a wonderful time this is, and what a wonderful world we live in. Don’t waste it!

And never forget the most famous of all: ‘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 one who'll decide where to go…’

So pick up that book, download the audiobook, because... ‘You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way.’

That should be enough reason to get you up in the morning - lockdown or no lockdown.

Just one more thought on reading and children from Dr Seuss: ‘You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child. ‘

If you do have some outdoor space, wherever you are, even if it is a small patch of fresh air on a patio , Dr Seuss suggests…

‘Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care. Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air.’

After all, like the Lorax, we should all ‘speak for the trees.’

Lockdown gives you the opportunity to appreciate the outdoors in a new way - to get green fingers dirty and keep idle hands busy. Allow children to experience the wonder of nature, on your doorstep. Do some birdwatching. Enjoy the crispness of Autumn as it slowly settles in.

Just breathe and open your eyes, because ‘you’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.’

So how would Dr Seuss end off this blog?

‘Today I shall behave as if this is the day I shall be remembered.'

I think that is what he would say to each one of us. Sobering advice to ponder from the zany children’s author.

But then he would look up and smile, with a twinkle in his eye, and say to you and to me: ‘Today you are you. That is truer than true. There is no-one alive who is You-er than you!’

So, ‘just tell yourself, Duckie, you're really quite lucky!’

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