To make your soul grow…

In 2006 a high school English teacher, Ms. Lockwood, had her students write to famous authors for advice. Only Kurt Vonnegut responded. (A fellow Hoosier, I might add.) Here is part of what he had to say:

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’re Count Dracula.

Here’s 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. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t 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 receptacles. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.

I hope the students took his words to heart and that their lives became enriched because of it.

Published by Lisa White

I am a former elementary school teacher, self-avowed word nerd, student of esoteric philosophy, energy medicine practitioner, questioner, wonderer, and lover of early-morning walks.

7 thoughts on “To make your soul grow…

  1. Lisa,
    I’m going to share your story of Kurt Vonnegut’s advice to your class with my Bookclub.
    We are all old high school friends who had a very inspiring high school teacher who was probably a lot like Ms Lockwood. What a beautiful and authentic response from Kurt Vonnegut. My friends will Love it 💕

    Vicki Perez (Eden Practitioner)


  2. I do this with my doodling or morning pages. For the former, I do it purely for me, just to understand how it feels to create without expectations. For the latter, I dispose of it all once I’m done writing three A4 pages. Anyway, thanks for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Stuart!

      I found the information about this letter from Mr. Vonnegut on Facebook and was struck by how all of his sage advice would have completely gone over my very serious head in high school. (I hope that some of those students in that English class were much smarter than I was!)

      I’m just glad to be finally catching on in this stage of my life. Good for you that you’ve already figured it out!

      My best…

      Liked by 1 person

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