Wednesday, January 1, 2014

30 Days of Quotes About Life ~ Day 1 ~ Dr. Seuss

I'm beginning yet another 30 day challenge here today, though this one will be a bit different. I'll be discussing 30 of the most "liked" quotes about life, according to GoodReads.

If this series isn't an abysmal failure, I'll do more of them. Parenthood quotes and those having to do with science come to mind for the future.

First up, though, the observations about life deemed the best ones by the internet.

Day 1 ~ Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened. 
                                                                              ~ Dr. Seuss

Seriously? This is the top quote on this list?

I'm staring at a blank screen right now. No, really. I am.

There are a few reasons. The first is that I know more about Dr. Seuss than most people do, and though I still adore the body of his work, I don't much like who he was as a person, at least in certain aspects of his life.

I wrote about it once and lost more fans in that one day than I have ever lost in the time I have been writing.

It was that bad.

Whether people want to accept it or not, he wasn't entirely a fabulous human being. Even if he left behind a huge volume of celebrated works, most of which reside in my house, I can't pledge total fandom in his general direction.

For a man most famous about the books he wrote primarily for children, he didn't much care for them in reality. His second wife left her husband and children for him after they carried on an affair while his first wife suffered chronic illnesses and mental health issues. His first wife ended up taking her own life after learning of the affair.

I know, I know, I know.

I'll stop talking about this because if I don't, you'll all leave me forever. It's not me, honest. I'm just the messenger of information that it seems most people would really rather not know. Which is fine. People shot the messenger before. His second wife, Audrey, who I have actually met in person, spoke about it at length publicly, so I'm not revealing anything that hasn't already been revealed.

Incidentally, she is as gracious and kind as the interviewer in the piece above writes and has made tremendous gifts to the community from the estate.

The choices he made in his life don't alter his body of work, this is true. There are many who chastised me on their way out the door last time about how we shouldn't judge the greatness of people like him by the flaws he had, but only by the good that he did. Which is fine, if that's how you operate. I don't work that way.

It colors my experience with him, with his books, with his stories, with the quotes attributed to him. Which is why we are here. Blah.

This quote.

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

Turns out that he may not have actually been the one to say it. There is dispute as to whether it is proper to credit him with it, as it is alleged to be something he spoke, not wrote. It is also possible that the quote actually belongs to Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Or that it is an anonymous proverb with no specific attribution.

No one actually knows.

Anyhow, the quote is one that floats around in our society fairly often. It's one that people like to throw at each other in their worst moments. It's one that I have been urged to follow in the times when I was in the deepest grief.

Here's the thing.

When you are talking about something in life that you know will be transient, that you anticipate to be a fleeting experience, something that has a definite beginning and an end, it's easier to heed this advice.

The best example I can think of in this manner is with, of all things, my daughter's soccer team. It may sound superficial and silly to identify these feelings with something like a sports team, but it wasn't exactly just a sports team. It was a group of girls who mostly stayed together in the same group for years. Who went from little girls to young women. Who grew in skills and abilities, both individually and together. They became a cohesive unit, they became friends, they spent more time together than with anyone else. We all did. We knew that this group would meet a certain end when the time came for tryouts and skills divergence. We knew. Those last times they took the field together, there weren't many dry eyes on the sidelines. We were all sad to see it go, but we were all collectively grateful that we, and they, had all had such an amazing experience together.

Soccer isn't life though. Not really, anyway. (I'm certain that a few friends would take issue with me on this...)

It's important, yes, but it's not life or death important. It's not like when you are faced with the sudden death of a friend, with a life changing accident, with a cancer diagnosis, with the loss of a parent. Those events, the ones that mean more, they simply exist on a level beyond that which you can just shrug off with bittersweet gratitude.

They simply necessitate a full blown process of grief. They demand it. They require it.

The trouble is that our society doesn't like sadness. Doesn't tolerate longing and heartbreak. We so badly want to be happy, we so much desire positivity, we so value health and youth that we aren't well equipped when we are faced with everything else that happens in life.

And a huge part of life is death. With that comes illness, with loss, with voids, with grief.

Others urge us to suck it up, to get past it, to move on, to wipe the tears, to buck up, to let it go.

At the end of this analysis, I will say this about this particular quote.

I loved it until I hated it.

I thought it was so terribly accurate and spoke truth until I realized that it didn't apply to me anymore.

I hang on to the hope that someday I will find my way back to loving it.

As for Dr. Seuss? Well, I'm not so sure.


  1. Geez DeBie .... every time I think that I want to leave Facebook for awhile, I read one of your posts, and I realize, that as long as you are writing, I'm not going anywhere. YOU are one of the few reasons that I log in daily to FB. Thanks for your brilliance, your insight, your depth, your passion and your compassion. I just love your writing ... which means, ultimately, that I love you. I know, I know, what kind of crazy woman says "I love you" to a virtual stranger. Me. This crazy woman. And I'll say it again. I love you. Happy 2014. xox deb

    1. Thank YOU. I love you too. Call me crazy. xo


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