Lessons from childhood
It's All About Anthropology
Arguably, one of the greatest books of all time is "The Little Prince" by Antoine de St. Exupery. Its lines are memorable and its lessons priceless. Not really a child's story, yet not really a book for adults, its significance is monumental because it is somehow symbolic of both worlds — the child's as well as the adult's.
The penultimate message from The Little Prince stands at the top of a long list of ideas graduating seniors should remember and cherish and live by always and forever. Like "The Little Prince," the members of the class of 2001 are situated peculiarly amidst two identities — the challenging but enriching one of the younger generation and the responsible but rewarding one of the older generation. As such, we are poised to form a bridge between the two.
The rock immediately ahead reminds us that even though it may be just a stepping stone in our journey to the top of the mountain, it is a most important one indeed. As we attempt to step forward, balancing precariously on this new stone while simultaneously looking forward to the horizon of our next role in life, we must not forget the lessons of the past. Lessons of our childhood gone by can help us remember what is essential.
"I think I can, I think I can," the Little Blue Engine puffed as she pushed up the mountain. Her words carried more meaning than a mere literal translation. It was as if she was whispering to us so much more. Believe in yourself. Never give up. Never underestimate your greatness.
And like the Little Blue Engine, the Berenstein Bears and their paperback companions showed us that, in the end, everything will be OK. Everything works out for the best. God only gives you what S/He knows you can handle.
"If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" reminded us to never settle. Don't be complacent. When you find what you were searching for, don't stop looking. Keep asking for more. If you give a journalist a column, look out. If you give a woman a basketball, be prepared. If you give a Domer a degree, the world had better be ready.
"Curious George" illustrates the power of inquisition. Stay attentive, engaged and curious. Ask questions, keep prodding, celebrate learning. Saying goodbye to the comfort zone of academics does not mean the quest for knowledge and experience has ended.
As we look for answers, however, "Where's Waldo" shows us we must do so with a keen and precise sense of vision. Stay alert, be cautious and observant.
We discover our imagination and creativity when we journey with Max in "Where the Wild Things Are."
Allow your thoughts to venture to the lofty. Dream, dream, dream. But always know that the hearts that love you are waiting for your return back at home.
Shel Silverstein illustrates a most inspiring way to live in "The Giving Tree." His words impart to us the magnificence of generosity. Lend yourselves to others in any way you can. No matter where you are, what you are doing and with whom you have found companionship, engage yourself whole-heartedly in service. It is the gift of giving for which we should be truly grateful.
Each night we escaped to the great green room in "Goodnight Moon." "Sweet dreams," we said to the telephone and the red balloon, commemorating every object around us. Here we captured consistency and, more importantly, appreciation. Be thankful for the little things and pray for them each night. Don't permit the busy tornado of American life to cloud your vision. Take time to look up at the stars, at the moon, at life, and take it all in.
The boy who cried wolf exemplifies the power of honesty. Keep your integrity. Present your opinions with an open mind. Tell the truth. Most importantly, be honest with yourself.
Communicating and cooperation is key. We learned this in "Big Dog, Little Dog." Work with others as did "Ted and Fred." When together, problem solving can be easy.
Don't lose sight of friends who were always there, said the "Velveteen Rabbit." No matter how old the friendship routine may seem, good friends only increase in value with time. The tattered, shabby remains of problems and differences are bountiful — and beautiful.
"I'll Love You Forever" instills us with comfort and magnitude of family. We know that, ultimately, it is those who raised us that will climb up any ladder to rescue, to nurture, to console, to love us.
And, like our family members, Marlo Thomas and friends in "Free to Be You and Me" encourage us to find what is unique about each of our souls. Honor diversity in others, for each person is special. You are special. I am special. We will make a difference.
Pay attention to Dr. Seuss when he tells you of "Oh, the Places You'll Go." As you graduate, remember his exhortation on the last page, "You're off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So ... get on your way!"
And like P.D. Eastman's diverse dogs in "Go, Dog, Go," we of different colors, places, talents, hobbies and friendship all contribute with unqualified acceptance of each others' differences to fashion a busy, but effectively functioning, world. Go, Domer, Go!
But in the end I still say that premier of all the great lessons of childhood is that which is learned in the friendship between a little blond boy and a wise fox. The fox unveils to The Little Prince the secret of love: "What is essential is invisible to the eye; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly."
Brittany Morehouse would like to thank The Observer for continuing the tradition of a student-run newspaper. She is grateful for the opportunity to have a student forum. Brittany's column today is dedicated to two special people: Dr. Rita Donley and especially her mother, who proves that it is possible to exemplify such essential life lessons every moment of one's existence.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Viewpoint Stories for Tuesday, April 24, 2001