To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it. – Kurt Vonnegut
I normally spend part of each morning and evening reading, browsing through interesting facts, articles, and images. At various times during the rest of the day, I create things. I write, paint, and draw. But I also cook, clean and tend to the menial things that makes the world go ’round. This morning, to my delight I discovered the story behind the quote above. For an English assignment, a group of New York high school students had to send letters to favorite writers and Vonnegut was the only who replied. You can read his letter HERE. In the letter, Vonnegut advises the students to write their very best six line poem, and tear it into tiny pieces when they finish. “…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.”
Make Your Soul Grow – Kurt Vonnegut’s letter read by Sir Ian McKellen
Our souls are not one size fits all. Your soul does not come preformed, packaged and ready-to-wear. Your soul is a unique universe nested within a universe of universes. Scientist have even tried to weight the soul as it departs upon death. The weight of the soul can be measured by the impact on the lives of others. The soul’s mass can be measured by life’s impact on you. But please do not measure yourself against the “famous”. You are unique. The word unique is regularly misused. Unique – being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else. And the gravity of your uniqueness increases through your experiences with others and with yourself. As the author of “The Little Prince wrote”…To live is to be slowly born. – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The master storyteller Vonnegut recommended students make art throughout their lives. He wrote to them “…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…” Art, the act of creating, has shaped my soul more than anything. And I include love as part of art. Love germinates in the soul before it grows between: a couple, family, pets, nature… Love is Art expressed in infinite ways. Art is Love revealed through the reflections in immeasurable eyes. Any “student of life” is also a student of love-art-hope-faith-wonder. There is no sense to it, no rhyme or reason. In fact, as Picasso said, The chief enemy of creativity is “good” sense.
Your life is a creative act of faith. No matter the situation, to keep going forward requires faith in oneself and the soul’s connection to something – anything. The more positive connections one can make, the more the soul grows and expands. I learned this lesson as little boy. My beloved grandfather died. I was lost for a time – adrift in a world without the one person who accepted and nurtured me without hesitation. The loss of the great soul in my life though led me eventually to discover the goodness in my heart, the positive energy flowing through my soul. My grandpa is still with me, as are so many others dead and living. In this way, I feel my soul is like the universe – ever-expanding at the speed of life. The known is finite, the unknown infinite. – Thomas Huxley
I have a three-part assignment for you, like Vonnegut. Gaze out a window today. Clear your thoughts and just look. Let your mind wander the landscape around you. Engage all your senses. Gaze at the nature, humanity, spirit, art; listen to the shouts, laughter, songs; smell the meals cooking, the rain on the asphalt, the salt and sewer; feel the wind, stroke the sill’s rough-smoothness, caress life; taste the air, savor the zest of becoming, appreciate the joy of making your soul grow. Now create something – an artifact of that joy your discovered, or re-discovered. It doesn’t have to be grand. It is already perfect because it is an expression of your soul. Now, give that object to someone you love. Tell them you love them. Mean it when you say it. Be fearless and truthful. Let your souls grow closer.