What are you listening to?

Listen To The Mustn’ts

Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child

Listen to the DONT’S

Listen to the SHOULDN’TS


Listen to the NEVER HAVES

Then listen close to me – 

Anything can happen, child,

ANYTHING can be.

Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends; New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1974

Children aren’t old enough to know what can and cannot happen. Anything is possible because immutable laws, probability, and rigidity of thinking haven’t arrived quite yet.

On one level, Silverstein is wrong. No matter how hard I flap my arms, I won’t achieve lift-off.

On the deepest level, Silverstein is spot on: miracles happen every day, and nothing can be taken for granted. It’s amazing that I forget this, considering I claim these words as gospel truth:

But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. (John 21:25, NRSV)

One thought on “What are you listening to?

  1. Bill Albritton

    This is so good. I had a professor who used to say: “Don’t ‘should’ on yourself “. Once heard a sermon about not being trapped by the ‘follies’–if only this, if only that. Our languaging to ourselves and others is so important. Psycholinguistics, self-talk, which is on-going and persistent, must be managed. I made a pack with myself not to use such words as “never” or “always” as they can have such an impact on what is possible. Thank you, Johnna and Shel, for stirring these messages up.


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