where a man can build his strength and freedom

How can we develop our mind and soul to a deeper level?

The photo shows a young man absorbed in a book. Surrounded by shelves of books, we can imagine that the young man is connecting with poets.

What is depth?
It is our capacity to understand.
Our depth is what allows us to appreciate people and their creations.

Without depth, most of the great ideas, books, poems, paintings, music,
discoveries and more, will be lost on us.
We won’t be able to comprehend them!
So we won’t absorb them, be enriched by them, and be blessed by them.
We also won’t be able to appreciate, absorb, and be enriched by all the
glorious creations of God and Nature.
Surrounded by all the riches of Nature and civilization we will remain poor.

The good news

The beauty of living in a free society is we can develop the depth of our mind
and soul at an early age, entirely on our own, and entirely for free.
All we need is an independent mind and an eagerness to grow.
But where shall we go to develop our depth?
Who has depth?
Who can we gain it from?

I have an idea.
And the good news is that you are already on the path!

So…are you with me?
Let’s DO this!

A different drummer

I have always been very different from everyone around me.
Didn’t think the same, do the same, have the same priorities.
Didn’t fit in.
Hated kindergarten. Was kicked out of Brownies.

We were the only family in our neighborhood without a TV.
All the walls of our home were lined with books,
for which I will be forever grateful.

Being different never bothered me too much, but I always wondered why.
I remember concluding, in my wisdom, that I was either a genius or a lunatic.
Was rather crestfallen to discover years later that I was neither.

In junior high, I carried with me in my purse every day a dog-eared book:
The Golden Book of English and American Verse.
I lived and breathed all the poems in that book, and they burn in me to this day.

I had already read Thoreau, and was going by his statement:
If a man does not keep pace with his companions,
perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.
Let him step to the music which he hears,
however measured or far away.

Those poems were my music.

So what about you?

Maybe you don’t LIKE poetry!
Maybe you are thinking: Dr. Hall, I see where you are going…
but I ain’t going there!

And I say: Good for you!
But it’s too late. You already went.

Your MUSIC is your poetry.

Every time you are moved by the lyrics of one of your favorite songs
you are in the hands of a poet.
Songs are poetry, and poetry is songs.

Critics can nit-pick the differences, but their essence is the same.
William Blake, one of the greatest poets who ever lived,
called his book Songs of Innocence and Experience.

Why do you think they gave Bob Dylan the Nobel Prize for Literature?
Because his songs are great poetry.
And how did he become such a poet?
By absorbing the best of both kinds of poetry.

Seek out the best of both for YOU

There are poets and poet/songwriters out there
who are just made for YOU.
Your teachers and mentors are waiting for you to discover them.
Find the deepest, most original minds and souls that you can!
The ones who speak powerfully and directly to your own life.

Explore the poets in different domains of music

Begin with the kind of music that is familiar to you–
rock, country, pop, hip hop, whatever…
Then be brave and open your mind and soul
to all the NEW-to-you current and previous domains.

When a song reaches you, pull up the lyrics and read them!
Read them slowly and with care.

There. There is the poetry.

The music and the voice bring the poetry to life through the song!
If you feel inspired, go ahead and write some lyrics of your own.
Never mind what quality they are.
Just doing this will deepen you.
And it will increase your appreciation of the poetry of others.

Explore the poets in different domains of literature

A basic anthology of poetry is all you need to get started.
Do a little gold mining…
and find ONE poet who speaks to you.

You might try Dylan Thomas, John Donne, Walt Whitman, Lorca, Blake…
I can also suggest a wonderful guide: 100 Creative Minds by Harold Bloom.
He offers us an introduction to the mind of the genius.
See if you can find a poet or other literary person in there who speaks to you.

I recently discovered I had missed one of my best mentors—Ralph Waldo Emerson.
WOW! Where was I???
When I read his essays I feel as if they were written just for me!
I wish so much that I had found him long ago.

So, I urge you to stretch yourself and do these explorations early.
So you don’t MISS someone who is central to your life!

Find your treasure

Be brave and explore great minds and souls in all different areas:
writers/poets/songwriters, artists, musicians, preachers, leaders. historians, scientists!
Think of it this way:
Every exciting person you connect with and understand is YOUR treasure.

Every one of them will develop your mind and soul to a deeper level.
That is why they wrote what they wrote with such love and care.
That is why they created what they created with such beauty.
Some of them hundreds of years ago!
So they could live on, and have their immortality in you.


Do you have a favorite poet? (either songwriter or literary)

I hope you will tell me who it is!

Dr. Hall