Did you know that March 2 is celebrated as Dr Seuss Day? Why this date? Because March 2 is the birthday of Dr Theodor Seuss Geisel, the creator of the Dr Seuss children’s book series. We thought this was one of the most interesting observances we’ve ever observed, but fitting, because Jamaican children grow up on his famous books as much as their counterparts in other regions of the world. Generations upon generations have found his witticisms and quirky illustrations amusing and instructive. So we decided to try to find parallels between some of his legendary words and ours. So here are some of the most famous things Dr Seuss said … and our proverbial Jamaican spin on them!
1. A persons’s a person no matter how small.
Jamaican equivalent: Mawga cow a bull mumma (The skinny cow is the bull’s mother).
Interpretation: Don’t judge a person by their size. Respect should be accorded to all people, regardless of their stature or status.
2. Today was good, today was fun, tomorrow is another one.
Jamaican equivalent: Today fi you, tomorrow fi me (Today for you, tomorrow for me).
Interpretation: No one knows what a day will bring. Tomorrow is a mystery. By extension, be careful how you deal with people and what decisions you make, because you don’t know what will happen to you (or someone you love) in the future.
3. Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.
Jamaican equivalent: Tek kin teeth kibba heart-bun (Use a smile [grin] to relieve a heartburn).
Interpretation: Even in painful moments, there is still something to be grateful for and to smile about.
4. Why fit in when you were born to stand out?
Jamaican equivalent: If yuh see everybody a run, tek time (If you see everyone running, take your time).
Interpretation: Don’t follow the crowd. Be true to who you are.
5. Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.
Jamaican equivalent: Dog with too much massa sleep widout supper (A dog with too many masters will sleep without supper).
Interpretation: Don’t allow others to influence your decisions or stop you from being the most authentic version of yourself. If you are like a dog with many masters (many persons giving him orders and directing his life), you will end up without supper (without the fulfillment of a strong sense of self). By extension, the people who do not accept you for who you are not your friends.
6. If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew. Just go right along, you’ll start happening too.
Jamaican equivalent: Every dog have him day, and every puss him four o’clock (Each dog has his day, and each cat his four o’clock).
Interpretation: Good things will happen for you. Just give it time. Keep working hard and giving it your best. Your day will come (or your four o’clock, LOL).
7. Today I shall behave as if this is the day I will be remembered.
Jamaican equivalent: Manners will carry yuh roun’ the world (Manners will take you around the world) .
Interpretation: Behave yourself wisely at all times. In essence, be courteous and kind to others, because you want to be remembered and treated favourably by people.
8. Be sure when you step, step with care and great tact, and remember that life’s a great balancing act.
Jamaican equivalent: Nuh dash weh yuh stick before yuh dun cross the river (Do not throw away your stick before you are finished crossing the river).
Interpretation: Life really is a balancing act, so be careful that you don’t burn bridges or treat people badly because you think you don’t need them anymore. As Dr Seuss says: treat people “with care and great tact”.
9. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft, and never mix up your right foot with your left.
Jamaican equivalent: Learn fi dance a yaad before yuh dance abroad (Learn to dance at home before you dance abroad).
Interpretation: While Dr Seuss encourages swiftness and skillfulness when manoeuvring life’s many challenges, the Jamaican proverb advises learning and mastering life skills at home before going anywhere else. Both have the same essence: Be smart about how you comport yourself in life.
10. Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.
Jamaican equivalent: Cow nuh know the use a him tail till him lose it (Cow never knows the use of his tail until he loses it).
Interpretation: They say hindsight is 20/20. It is when you look back on an incident, or after time has passed and something is lost that you realise how valuable that time/thing was. The antidote? Value what you have now.
11. The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.
Jamaican equivalent: Reading mek di man (Reading maketh the man).
Interpretation: Reading will broaden your horizons and perspectives, which will increase your knowledge and make you more qualified to go farther in life.
12. To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.
Jamaican equivalent: Every hoe have him ‘tick a bush (Each hoe has his stick in the bush).
Interpretation: There is someone out there for everyone. For each person, there is an individual who compliments them.
13. It’s better to learn how to learn than to know.
Jamaican equivalent: Book learning annuh intelligence (Book learning is not intelligence).
Interpretation: Intelligence is more important than knowledge. With intelligence, knowledge can be acquired and correctly used.
14. You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.
Jamaican equivalent: Love and cough cyaan hide (You can’t hide a cough. You can’t hide love).
Interpretation: Love is a wonderful emotion that usually finds expression in our demeanour and on our faces, whether or not we are aware of it.
15. I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.
Jamaican equivalent: Donkey seh worl’ nuh level (Donkey says that the world [The Earth] is not level).
Interpretation: Good and bad happen to everyone. Misfortunes will happen to you too.