dr. seuss never ceases to amaze me. maybe we should start “seutherapy” – aaah, the sound alone of the word already conjures up something great. soothing, subversive, seuss-y and let’s not forget suess – the german word for sweet.
if you think that dr. seuss is all about nonsense, you are, with due respect, way off the mark. this is pretty profound stuff:
that’s what you can do.
you can think about yellow
or think about blue . . .
you can think about red.
you can think about pink.
you can think up a horse.
oh, the thinks you can think!
oh, the thinks
you can think up
if only you try!
if you try
you can think up
a guff going by.
and you don’t have to stop.
you can think about schlopp.
schlopp. schlopp. beautiful schlopp.
with a cherry on top.
let’s look at this:
the good doctor starts easy, suggesting you can think about everyday things like animals and colours. let’s note, though, that he uses the word “can”. not should or could but can. that implies a no-pressure open invitation (you can do this but you don’t have to), opens up possibilities and also suggests that you are capable of doing this. all that in one little word.
then he steps it up a bit, quite harmlessly-seeming. for the longest time, i didn’t even notice that he doesn’t say, “oh the things you can think” but “oh the thinks you can think”.
that sort of subtlety is the trademark of many a great artist, partly because it keeps the enjoyment fresh (if i’ve overlooked this, what else might i find?) as he says “thinks” instead of “things” he feeds us a bit of playfulness and creativity – and he hints that we can change our thoughts.
dr. seuss also steps up the encouragement. from his list of things/thinks you can think – birds, yellow, horses, etc. – he goes on to underline, with an “oh” and an exclamation mark, that all sorts of things/thinks are possible, “if only you try!”
he could leave it at that and then the encouragement might feel a bit ambiguous. “if only you try” – a sensitive person might feel criticism there: “i haven’t thought of much more than animals and other boring things, maybe i haven’t tried hard enough?”
but this great poet knows what he’s doing. by giving another example of what you can try, and leaving out the “only”, he makes it easier to image what you can think about (could we say he helps us to allow new thinks?). like a guff going by.
now why would you want to think up a guff? and what’s a guff??
guffs and schlopps are precisely the thinks we want to think up (think UP, not down, not about, but UP – lifting up our minds and ideas). we’ve already done all the other stuff – yes, we can do the horses and the pretty colours. and, let’s be honest, often they’re not horses but monsters and the colours can get pretty ugly.
that’s where seutherapy comes in. gentleness, no pressure, encouragement, playfulness and creativity can transform us, so that we don’t only have new thoughts but maybe even new ways of thinking.
there’s a slogan in recovery speak that says, “my best thinking got me here” – here being the misery, the suffering, the heartache that is so often created by deep ruts of thinking and feeling in the same way, over and over again.
let’s allow dr. seuss to inspire us to think ourselves UP out of those ruts, into new thinks.
schlopp, schlopp, guff, guff – can you hear the wings of your new thinks?
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