All I really need 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-box in kindergarten. These are the things I learned:
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 somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced 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 then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.
Everything you need to know is in there somewhere.
The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation.
Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.
Take any 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 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 thing back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.
And it is still true, no matter how old you are – when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.
© Robert Fulghum, 1990.
Found in Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten, Villard Books: New York, 1990, page 6-7.
I spent some time last night in a text “conversation” with a friend of mine about the value of naps. This was pertinent since I took a 3-hour nap yesterday afternoon, soothed to sleep by the comforting sounds of raindrops splashing merrily on the balcony. Sunday afternoon naps should be a law (and according to the Bible, they are, so no guilt here). The nap and the conversation led, naturally for me, to memories of the poem above.
During childhood, things were simple. Parents told us when to get out of bed (or made us). We ate what was served for dinner. We went to school and did our homework and found time to play.
Then we grow up. And find ways to complicate things.
We all often make things more difficult for ourselves. We tell ourselves there are only so many hours in a day and stress that we’re not accomplishing absolutely everything on our to-do lists in the available time.
Writers add stress about writing to their lists.
- Have we set aside enough time to write?
- Have we set too much time aside?
- Do our stories have conflict?
- Are our characters memorable and real?
- Is our antagonist worthy of disdain but in a way where his or her motives are understandable?
I believe every one of those questions are valid and should be asked if we want to do our job of writing well.
It’s only when we allow the questions to overwhelm us that we run into trouble. If we run into trouble, we run the risk of not writing at all and that’s like showing up to the day job to sit twiddling our thumbs all day, every day, still expecting to collect a paycheck. How long is the boss going to tolerate that sort of behavior?
This one line from the poem seems particularly applicable — learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
From blog posts and craft books, I’ve learned the following:
Write, on a schedule that works for you, but be sure to write. Give your Muse freedom to think and dream, sing and dance.
Learn what you can about the craft of writing. Gain an understanding of the rules of writing to know why the rules exist, then, if it’s in the best interest of your story, you have the option of breaking those same rules.
Always make time to play. Our Muses are playing when they come up with those fantastic ideas. Why shouldn’t we?
Don’t underestimate the power of warm cookies, cold milk, and a good nap.
Giving ourselves permission to take a break, to rest our minds, can ease our stress and open the door to even greater creativity. It keeps things simple and can help clear the clutter in our minds.
How do you simplify?
What’s your favorite cookie?
When’s the last time you took a nap?