He Spoke to Me

Do you have any idea how powerful it was when I read the following poem, written by Shel Silverstein as part of his book “Where the Sidewalk Ends?”

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.

I don’t know how old I was, ten or twelve maybe? But to have an adult, especially such a surly looking adult, say something like that to me!


This past weekend, I pulled “Where the Sidewalk Ends” off my shelf and gave it a new read. It had been years. Maybe even decades.

And that poem, it still stopped me in my tracks.

I just finished a biography of Shel Silverstein called “A Boy Named Shel” that I found, of all places, at the Dollar Store.

I’m not going to lie to ya, the biography is not the greatest writing I’ve ever encountered. In fact, it’s pretty bad, worthy of the venue in which it was purchased. That said it did give me some (hopefully true) insight into the life of the very prolific writer, cartoonist, songwriter and playwright.

I learned from this biography that Silverstein’s mind was constantly in motion, constantly creating without restrictions.

I only know of a few creative people in my life that are *constantly* channeling The Muse. One of them might even be related to me.

I’m pretty creative and am usually chock full of ideas, but I also go through extended periods of time of writer’s or crafter’s block. Perhaps for me, these are quiet periods that are essential to my own creative process, because as frustrating is to be creatively constipated, I usually come through it stronger.

I have learned that The Muse will return if I just relax and let her go. She always comes back.

It’s funny, sometimes seeing art or meeting a creative person will touch off a creative spark inside of me, thus breaking through the blockades. Through the words of his poems, Shel Silverstein did that for me this weekend. I started a new art project and I did photography and I felt the creatives begin to whisper in my ear, which always gives me such satisfaction.

I understand that Silverstein was a mentor to many of his friends. He would push them to create more, to push the bounds of their art and to be better artists.

Silverstein died in 1999, but his words remain powerful. They speak to me as loudly today as they did when I was young.

Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.

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  • Anji

    Brilliant poem. Unfortunately, there are lots of children who only get the negative first 4 lines in life.

    The book title that did it for me was "Anybody can do Anything" by Betty Macdonald. It's a good read too.

  • Karen Fayeth

    Anji – That's a great book title. Love it!

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