Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mulberry Street

In 1937, Dr. Seuss published his first classic, AND TO THINK THAT I SAW IT ON MULBERRY STREET.  A young man is offered wise advice.
"Dad always says to me,
Marco keep your eyelids up
And see what you can see."

On his way home from school, Marco looks and looks and keeps careful track,
"But all that I've noticed,
Except my own feet,
Was a horse and a wagon
On Mulberry Street." 
He goes on to take his simple, routine observation and embellishes it with color, excitement, action, noise, a variety of people and animals, and a zest for life.  He can't wait to get home and tell his dad all that he saw.

I read this to our grandkids while we were waiting in the car for their mommy.  They both listened carefully, watching the colorful pictures become vivid in Marco's imagination.

He gets home and meets his dad, eager and full of enthusiasm. 
"Dad looked at me sharply...
'Was there nothing to look at...
Did nothing excite you or
make your heart beat?'"

But, Marco responds that all he saw was a horse and a wagon on Mulberry Street.  Does that make you feel like Marco gave up on a dream?  Do you wonder if the dad was really trying to squelch his imagination?  Or, maybe the dad was trying to help him be more observant, more alert, more appreciative of the wealth, variety and action of life around him?

With hindsight of the almost fifty books Dr. Seuss went on to write, it is clear he wanted to stimulate and encourage imagination, not silence it.  A general theme in many of his books is to look and look and "See what you can see."

Next time I have trouble imagining what to write, I'll watch for the horse and wagon on Mulberry Street.
What sparks your imagination?

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