The Second Lesson started as all of the lessons start with conversation and connection followed by three timed free writes/draws. The conversation facilitates connection and ease creating an opening for reflection. The free writes/draws offer an opportunity for quick, successive mark making whether in images and words. The goal is to let it flow for five minutes and turn off the editor. In combination, these simple exercises loosen the mind and quicken the pen/cil.
Then, we take 30 minutes for the exploration of the Proverb. Again, it starts with conversation focusing on personal interpretations and allowing for multiple perspectives. Twenty minutes is given for personal reflection and meaning-making. A goal of the 20 minutes is to create at least one moment to share. We end with five more minutes of reflection this time honing in on personal meaning and manifestation of the Proverb through sharing one moment created within the previous 20 minutes.
Ninety minutes is allocated for a more in-depth examination of the essential story element. This week the element was, "Be vivid". To examine this element, I shared Herman Hesse's short story, "The Difficult Path". While reading, I had Ben and Leonard find two different examples of vivid moments within the story, one a scene or a setting and the other an example of a boundary or border. I had them share why they thought and how the passage represented the element, "Be vivid".
Leonard and Ben shared very different passages. They explained that vividness comes from descriptive words and from a connection to past experience. We examined how long or short those passages were. All of the passages were about three sentences long. This showed Ben and Leonard that vividness comes not from loquaciousness but rather from detail.
As an example, one such passage Ben selected was from the beginning of the story when the narrator is about to set down on her difficult path. She is in a meadow and the sun is bright and warms her body. It is comfortable there, and she wants to stay. Yet something calls her to start down a path. Ben mentioned that that one paragraph is the only mention of the meadow and ease. Still, that image stays with you as she climbs precipices and navigates rocky terrain.
They were then given ten minutes to find four moments (ie.e scenes, characters, sequence of events, etc.) to from their work created during Lesson One. During Lesson One, I had them read quotes by Thich Naht Hanh and Gandhi that spoke of difficult paths and drawing on past lessons. Two examples of the work they created during Lesson One can be found here. I asked them to expand those moments by adding a few more details.
From there, they were asked to create a path that connects at least two of the moments they selected. I wanted to see a beginning, a middle, and an end to their path. And I want moments of vividness and moments of vagueness.
After about 45 minutes, I had them stop and look at their work. I wanted them to find a question they each had about it, something of which they wanted more clarity. I then invited them to ask their question. As listeners of the question, our job was not to answer the question for the artist/writer but to reply with a question that could help the asker to seek their own answer. The purpose was to provide inquiry at a crucial moment in the creative process.
Finally, they were given 30 minutes to finalize their personal work.
What was created is deeply personal. Ben and Leonard have different mediums that they work in. Primarily, Ben likes visual art and focused on drawing a figurative path from the dawn of time to the present. Leonard is more of a writer and focused on writing about his personal path. In both works, Ben and Leonard put their selves on paper in ways many people (and especially young men) do not. They revealed personal values, lessons, and beliefs.
For me, my difficult path is ensuring Ben and Leonard have an internship that cultivates voice and creativity, expands perspective, and challenges assumptions. I believe I am on the right path. Yes, it requires work and diligence. It also requires me to model walking a difficult path.
Webster's defines difficult as "needing much effort or skill to accomplish, deal with, or understand". I believe this internship provides much effort AND skill for all of us. Together we are walking it. And together the difficult path is made easier.
As the narrator of "The Difficult Path" moves from the mantra of "I must" to "I will", she realizes how much easier the path becomes. It still requires much work, but her footing becomes sure and her gait becomes steady. "I will" is also the mantra for me as I continue down this path. There is no predicate either for a predicate indicates I know where we are going. I do not. I simply know I will. And in turn, I know Ben and Leonard will.
That's the beauty of a path. Sometimes, not knowing where you are going makes possibility endless.