Today is November 21 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you make your soul grow?” Those who navigate the chaos understand the value of making their soul grow as often as possible. This is akin to traveling outside of your comfort zone, experiencing cognitive dissonance, or thinking differently. Making your soul grow, however, goes beyond those necessary tools for personal growth. Making your soul grow is perhaps the greatest challenge you can give yourself because it forces you, far more than the other tools, to look within yourself and proclaim what makes your soul blossom.
In the December 2006 alumni newsletter of Xavier High School in New York, President Reverend, Daniel J. Gatti reflected upon a recent development earlier in the year with one of the teachers. As Rev. Gatti wrote:
“During the first semester, one of our English teachers, Ms. Lockwood (using her own imagination, I might add), gave an assignment that had her students writing to famous authors. An exponent of the fantastic in literature, and known for his uses of science fiction, the now 84-year-old Kurt Vonnegut (Slaughterhouse-Five, 1969) wrote back! He expressed his gratitude for the friendly letters he received and went on to give some advice.”
Here is Vonnegut’s letter to the students:
“Dear Xavier High School, and Ms. Lockwood, and Messrs Perin, McFeely, Batten, Maurer and Congiusta:
I thank you for your friendly letters. You sure know how to cheer up a really old geezer (84) in his sunset years. I don’t make public appearances anymore because I now resemble nothing so much as an iguana.
What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.
Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood and give it to her. Dance home after school and sing in the shower and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend you are Count Dracula.
Here is an assignment for tonight, and I hope Ms. Lockwood will flunk you if you don’t do it: Write a six-line poem, about anything, but rhymed. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can. But do not tell anybody what you’re doing. Do not show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?
Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces and discard them into widely separated trash recepticals [sic]. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what is inside you, and you have made your soul grow.
God bless you all!
Vonnegut once wrote “I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center.” Making your soul grow is one way to stand as close to the edge without going over.
How often do you make your soul grow?