Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
The IMPOSSIBLES, the WON’TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me―
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.
―Shel Silverstein, from Where the Sidewalk Ends
Where the Sidewalk Ends is one of two books from my childhood that I still have. I remember dramatically begging my parents for it at a 2nd grade book fair, and being completely devastated when they said No. But just like magic, it appeared on Christmas morning and inside the front cover it reads:
With all our Love
From Mom and Dad
May you always keep your dreams!”
As 7-year-olds, our dreams may have been as simple as a book of poetry from a book fair, but as we get older we don’t do as good of a job listening to our dreams. School loans and full time jobs and mortgage payments start to create more noise in our lives.
The (joyful) tasks of raising kids and making dinners and doing laundry become the soundtrack for our days and we hum along to the noisiness of being busy. Sometimes plans are derailed by illness or tragedies out of our control and the SHOULDN’TS and MUSTN’TS join in the chorus. Beeps and tweets and rings keep time. Our focus shifts from one thing to another and we’re just trying to keep up each day. We check our phones from when we wake up in the morning until we lay down at night. And still the noise grows.
But what if we STOP for a moment.
Just for a few minutes or even a few seconds. We shush the IMPOSSIBLES, the WON’TS and become quiet enough for that little voice inside of us to speak. It has been waiting for just this chance and it may barely be a whisper to start, but it speaks of the ANYTHING. Trust me, sometimes that voice is too close to the realest part of you that it is shit-your-pants scary to hear what it has to say, but all it needs is for you to listen. The simple act of listening makes it stronger.
The MUSTN’TS, the DON’TS, the SHOULDN’TS, the IMPOSSIBLES, the WON’TS and the NEVER HAVES are boisterous and noisy and demanding and a lot of times are all that we can hear.
But the ANYTHING…? It may be quiet and scary, but it might just be what you need to hear today.