Tag Archives: Robert Fulghum

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” (1986)

In thirty-two (32) years since the book’s best-seller publication, have we forgotten, gotten lost (within family life, at work, in government, throughout the world)?



Robert Fulghum grew up in Waco, Texas, received a Bachelor of Arts at Baylor University in 1958, a Bachelor of Divinity in 1961, and was ordained as a Unitarian Universalist minister, serving Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship in Bellingham, Washington, from 1960-1964.  He is currently Minister Emeritus at the Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Church in Edmonds, Washington. The Kindergarten book stayed on The New York Times bestseller lists for nearly two years.  The collection of essays, subtitled “Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things,” has been updated and revised.  There are currently more than 17 million copies of his books in print, published in 27 languages in 103 countries!  [See more in Wikipedia.]

Remember this: Play fair . . . Don’t take things that aren’t yours . . . When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together . . . Share everything . . . Don’t hit people . . . Clean up your own mess . . . Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody . . . Take a nap every afternoon.

“Crayolas are one of the few things the human race has in common.”

“Rock, paper, scissors: scissors cut paper; paper covers rock; rock smashes scissors.”

“To be human is to know and to care and ask, ‘What’s it for?’”

“We take what we know, which isn’t even the whole story, and we add it to what we wish and need, . . .  We even make ourselves up, fusing what we are with what we wish into what we must become.”

from the book Uh-Oh (1991):

“In high school, one learns that love is not forever.”

“A question with several possible answers comes to mind: If one man lives as though he would never die and another man lives as though he might die tomorrow, would either wear a wrist watch?”

“Will we ever have enough time?  What would happen if we only had enough time?  When will the time finally come?  Who knows where the time goes?  How far is it from time to time?  What time is the right time?  Will we know when our time has finally come?”

“Surprise is at the core of existence.  It’s true.  You never ever really know what’s coming next.” 

from the book Maybe (Maybe Not) [1993]

“Whatever we may think or believe, what we have done is our story.”

“Life is.  I am.  Anything might happen.”

“. . . since everything and anything are always possible, the miraculous is always nearby and wonders shall never, ever cease.”

“At age ___, I begin to realize there are some things I will never have or be able to do.”

“The varying truth perceived by many witnesses is a fact of life.”

“Professionals don’t know everything.”

“. . .  [My navel].  It’s the mark of mortality.

“Never, ever, regret or apologize for believing that when one man or one woman decides to risk addressing the world with truth, the world may stop what it is doing and her.” 



all i needed to know


“Who knows where the time goes?”  –Sandy Denny/Judy Collins/Eva Cassidy

Credit: filmbuffonline

A Meditation and Reflection on Time:  All we did, all we have to do, all left undone.  Another year has passed, as have some friends and relatives.  Another year ahead, with or without resolutions.  But “Time Marches On…”


Every person passing through this life will unknowingly leave something and take something away.  Most of this ‘something’ cannot be seen or heard or numbered or scientifically detected or counted.  It’s what we leave in the minds of other people and what they leave in ours. Memory.  The census doesn’t count it.  Nothing counts without it.”  –Robert Fulghum


“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.”  –Gabriel Garcia Marquez




happy new year


“When I consider how my light is spent…”–John Milton

By: James F. O’Neil

donald m murray

Donald M. Murray

“Write what you know,” Donald M. Murray (the late Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and long-time teacher) told me long ago in his book Write to Learn.  And so I practice.  Most of my personal writing is the personal-experience type: “honest, specific, and moving.”  (And many times just plain fun.) I like this approach.  The authors of these kinds of writings are authorities on the self–or selves–contained within the lines of the page.

Often, though, some writing teachers considered such efforts as non-academic, and not good writing.  I hold that “The best writing is personal writing.”  For what really is “good” or “best”?

With personal-experience writing, I do not have to become mired in academic or argumentative rhetoric to make a point.  In fact, I recall the historian Barbara Tuchman (American historian and author of The Guns of August) writing that history is the best narration–and history is the life of persons, peoples, cultures, nations.

Teacher Donald Murray wrote of students being able to “. . . discover and develop the skills of critical thinking . . . and move in close and then stand back. . . .  With immediacy and detachment, close examination, and the placing of events in perspective, there is compassion and judgment, feeling and thought.”

In addition, Robert Fulghum, author of   All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten (1988), all i needed to knowdescribes various levels of writing: public, private, secret–all narrative.  For such a writing form “allows the reader to discover the subject–and the meaning of the subject.”  Then the reader and writer really have communication (a type of communion, or a “symbiotic relationship” in modern-speak: a relationship of mutual benefit).

Mr. Murray’s words bolstered me, supported me, and urged me on to continue what I have been doing since my early journal-writing years.  My best stories and anecdotes–in essence, my best writing–come from my life: from my reading and viewing, my experiencing, my observing.  I don’t think I could ever give them up and still be a writer.

© James F. O’Neil  2013

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