Friday, November 12, 2010

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 43

Growing up, I remember that my mom had a poster titled "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." As a preadolescent, I thought it was a pretty clever poster. Many years later, I still find that it holds true.

The book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, by Robert Fulghum is full of short, witty views of life that brought a smile to my face. It is a quick read with short chapters that can be read whenever you need a pick-me-up.

Here are a couple of excerpts from my favorite chapters...
All I really needed to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sand pile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:

Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you're sorry when you hurt someone. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balance life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that. Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we. And remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.

Everything you need to know is there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and sane living.

Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm.

Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had a basic policy to always put things back where they came from and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are – when you get out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

Man next door and I look upon one another with suspicion. He's a raker and a shoveler, as I see it. A troubler of the natural ways of the earth. Leftover from the breed that conquered the wilderness. He thinks of me in simpler terms: lazy.

...Leaves have been falling down for thousands and thousands of years, I tell him. And the earth did pretty well before rakes and people, I tell him. Old Mother Nature put the leaves where she wanted them and they made more earth. We need more earth, I tell him. We're running out of it, I tell him. And snow – snow is not my enemy, I tell him. Snow is God's way of telling people to slow down and rest and stay in bed for a day. And besides, snow always resolves itself. Mixes with the leaves to form more earth, I tell him.
Both of these excerpts resonate with me. I really do think that the world would be a happier place if we lived by simpler rules. As for raking leaves, Daniel and I are not leaf-raking folks. Every year we let them be and every year {by summer} they are gone and the grass is back and we haven't wasted hours and hours of our lives raking.

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