Culture

Do to feel. Do to become.

I’m not often moved by the words of creators – directors, musicians, orators, et. al. – enough to showcase them in an emphasized way. But below are the words of Kurt Vonnegut (1944-1971) to students at Xavier High School. The message he conveys here is one that I earnestly and wholeheartedly have struggled with. Both in the articulation and the action of. It is a searing and beautiful reminder to actively do. Do what? Whatever it is that your hands, feet, voice, mind, and vision move you to do. Do the thing that carries your heart on the wind and allows you to dance lightly through times that would see you smothered. Create for no other reason than it feeling good. Swimming in the divine pool that is creative hedonism is a worthy exploit. Because in the midst of creative process you find no remorse in lack, no guilt in excess, because the time spent enraptured in your passions is never wasted.

There is no rush. Come back to what it is YOU do so well. Measure only by your own happiness and satisfaction.

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 any more 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’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. No fair tennis without a net. 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 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’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.

God bless you all!
Kurt Vonnegut