I think some of the most important things we learn in life are during childhood.
Thank you, Dr. Seuss.
One day last week, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed, so I decided to go to Barnes & Noble. You see, when I was in college, I would often go pick up a book from the children’s section whenever I didn’t want to think about all of the tests I had or money I owed or whatever else was weighing on my shoulders. I would escape into the stories I heard a hundred times as a kid, because it would also help me escape to a time when I didn’t worry about things so much. Life was more carefree.
I think we could actually learn a lot from kids.
Last week when I returned to this tactic, I picked up Green Eggs and Ham, because I remember how my mom used to read it to my sister and me when we were little and how she would always remind me of this story when I didn’t want to eat certain foods (I’m kind of a picky eater). After I finished reading–it goes by so much faster when you’re not a little kid listening to your mom–I sat there and thought about it for a while. Do I give green eggs and ham a chance?
Now, no, you should not feel like you have to give into the peer pressure of the Sam-I-Am people in your life, but you shouldn’t always have the closed-off mindset of the stubborn guy who at first refuses to try the new dish. Every once in a while, it’s good to try something new.
Especially when it scares the crap out of you.
As I sat in the bookstore, two moments of my life popped into my head. The first was actually a collection of moments and occurred when I was in college at Texas A&M. For some reason, I refused to say the word “howdy.” Ever. If you aren’t familiar with the tradition, it’s just a thing almost every Aggie says, and I couldn’t do it. In fact, I called it the “H-word” and wouldn’t even say it when referring to others saying it. People would pass me, say “Howdy” to me, and I would simply reply with “Hi,” “Hello,” or “How’s it going?” Maybe if I had let myself say the word–even just once–I would have felt more immersed in the culture, stayed at that school, and actually enjoyed my college experience. Maybe it wouldn’t have changed anything. But I will never know, because I didn’t try something new. I insisted on being stubborn rather than bold.
The second instance happened Saturday when I was reading by my pool. It’s technically “fall” (whatever that means), so the pool water temperature is actually really cold right now, but this particular day was warm enough to be poolside with a book. I was brave enough to put my feet in the pool (barely), but that was it. I vowed not to think about doing anything too crazy.
Until I thought about it.
It was getting really hot, and I actually hate sitting outside in the heat by a pool and not being in the water. But I don’t get in cold pools. I just don’t. I hate the cold–and I mean every letter of the word hate. But I thought back to Green Eggs and Ham, and I suddenly wanted to jump in the pool. So I did. (Well, sort of. I am shallow and didn’t want to get my hair wet, so I half-jumped, half-slid in there. Whatever. It counts.) I didn’t actually accomplish anything in this feat, except that I did–I did something I’ve always been afraid to do. And it felt pretty good, minus the numbness running through my body.
There are times when it’s fine to have your mind completely made up about something and not budge one bit. But then there are those moments when you have the chance to do something bold–something fearless–and give yourself an opportunity you may have never had if you had held back. Don’t let those pass you by. Jump in the cold water while saying, “And I will eat them in the rain!” (Or whatever your version of eating green eggs and ham looks like for you.)
Don’t be afraid to take advice from Dr. Seuss–he did pretty well for himself.