In honor of the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, this past week, many people were sharing some of his best quotes. As I was reading them there was one that particularly caught my attention. It was one that I had not heard for a long time.
“Today you are you. That is truer than true. There is no one alive that is youer than you.”
In our Living Compass wellness programs and classes we talk a great deal about vocation and this quote from Dr. Seuss speaks to the essence of what we mean when we talk about vocation. Vocation is not simply the work (paid or otherwise) that we do, but is more deeply rooted in finding and expressing our unique voice in the world. The word vocation comes from the Latin vocare, which is the root for voice. To live out our vocation in the world is to find and express our unique voice.
Our seventeen month old grandson doesn’t seem to have any trouble fully living expressing his unique voice in the world. He has recently begun picking out his own outfits to wear and there is truly no one else alive with his exact sense of style! It is easy for me to look at our grandson and think there is truly “no one youer than you!” He does not look to others to see if they approve of his style. Instead, he knows what he likes and what makes him feel good and is proud to show it to the world.
Something happens to all of us though as we grow older. We want to fit in and be like others. We want to be accepted and we want the approval of others and so it becomes more difficult to trust and express our unique voice. That voice is still in there but we need to be more intentional to listen to that inner voice and to express it as we get older.
I see this struggle to want to be like others when I watch clips from some of this season’s television shows that feature singing competitions. It is not uncommon for a contestant to attempt to sound like someone else, and so a young woman might try to sound just like Katy Perry, or a young man works hard to exactly mimic the sound of John Legend. This never plays well with the judges. One of the strongest critiques a judge can give a copycat contestant is, “you sang that like you were just trying to imitate the original version of that song. There was no originality to your performance; it was totally karaoke”. The consistent feedback that judges give to the singers is that they need to make the song their own–they have to bring their own unique voice, talent, and passion to the song in order to make it memorable. I think this is a lesson for all of us.
In honor of the Dr. Seuss’s birthday, and in honor of my grandson’s unique sense of putting together outfits, I’m going to recommit myself to do as the singing contestant judges advise and use my unique voice, talents, and passions to make more beautiful music in the world. I invite you to join me because, as the good doctor says, there really is “no one alive that is youer than you!”