In Benjamin and Rosamund Zander's book The Art of Possibility—a quick read that I highly recommend—the authors highlight an activity they call "Give Yourself an A" that Benjamin would assign his students at the New England Conservatory of Music at the beginning of each term. Every fall on the first day of class, Benjamin would make an announcement: "Everybody gets an A." There was only one condition: students had to submit a letter—written on the first day but dated the last day of class—that begins with "Dear Mr. Zander, I got my A because..." The purpose of the letter was to bring out who the students would become by the end of the course in way that justifies an extraordinary grade.
On our final day of Meet-up 1 (of 4) with Experience Institute, we took the Zanders' assignment and transformed it to fit our upcoming year of designing our own education. The prompt became "Dear Ei Cohort, this year was a success because..." with a post-date of August 25, 2016. Below is my letter to my classmates.
August 25, 2016
Dear Ei Cohort,
My year was a success because:
I uncovered the true meaning of health. I have access and ownership of my mind, body, and spirit in a way that is no longer vague or undefined. I manifest health with my mind, I act it out in my body, and I feel it in my soul.
I accessed creativity by leaping into the unknown. The kind of creativity that gives me goosebumps, the kind that makes me cry, the kind that brings out laughter that is so true that it spreads and grows to everyone in the room… Until everyone has laughed so hard that they don’t need to do abs at the gym later that afternoon.
I found work that can’t be defined as work. What I found was passion. Passion in the way I spend my days. Inside and out, with the people I love and respect. I don’t get up to go work anymore. I wake up to live.
I fell in love with myself. I check myself out in the mirror now. I fell so in love with myself, that I've bubbled over in ways that allow me to strengthen my relationships with those I care about. Now I can be a teacher: supporting others in success only because I have supported myself—completely comfortable in my words and actions, not because they are perfect but because I choose them.
I allowed myself to feel freedom. A life of vulnerability, not shame. A life of abundance, not scarcity. No longer confined by the limits that I had previously allowed others to place over me.
My year was a WILD success because I now live my values everyday, imperfectly, but I live them. Health, creativity, passion, love and freedom. It’s rarely glamorous, but it’s life. Most importantly it’s the life I want to live… at least until the Earth is swallowed by the sun. But that’s an entirely different letter.
Onward and Upward,