“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.” – Robert Fulghum
It was my great good fortune to hear this interesting and thoughtful writer speak to the opening session of a school year at St. Olaf College, where I was working in public relations at the time and also charged with coming up with “someone interesting and different” to get the students “kick-started” on a good academic year.
His book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten was just in the process of being published at the time and hadn’t yet made the splash on the national and international scene that would ultimately lead to its being on the New York Times bestseller list for the next two years.
Subtitled “Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things,” it became such a big hit because, like Fulghum himself, it shares wonderful everyday insights that each of us really ought to know and often just have forgotten. He didn’t forget and because of his wonderful presentation skills 16 million book buyers didn’t (and won’t) either.
I remember vividly how he walked out onto the stage in front of a fairly rowdy crowd of about 1,000 students and held up his hands saying “Anyone here know this song?” Then he began humming the tune to “Itsy Bitsy Spider” while making the climbing up the waterspout movements of the spider. Within seconds nearly every student had not only stopped talking to one another and started either singing or humming the song, but also were making the spider climbing movements with their own hands. They were captured and mesmerized by his talk and it turned into one of the most enjoyable and fastest moving opening talks I – and probably all of those students – could remember.
Fulghum, born this date in 1937 in Waco, Tex., speaks and writes from his many life experiences which have included work as a ditch-digger, newspaper carrier, ranch hand, IBM salesman and singing cowboy … and, of course, being a child.
Trained as a Unitarian Universalist minister, Fulghum once said he started writing to share many of the thoughts and ideas he utilized in his preaching and in reaching out to members of his congregation. “I think,” he added, “my writing is part of my ministry.”
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