The other day I noticed something very positive happened to the energy and ‘spirit’ of a session, when a phrase used by a student was repeated first by ‘them’ and then by me.
It felt very harmonious and as if a lovely gift kept reappearing still perfectly wrapped!
So the phrase was metaphorically lifted up once, then twice through repetition; then thrice and seemed to become the anchor for the whole session. And what a positive and very happy anchor it was!
I can best describe the whole session as sunny – almost as if we were enjoying a ‘bask’ in the words and ideas volunteered by the student which then threaded their way through our discussion.
Perhaps I thought this ‘basking’ is similar to NLP Anchoring where certain ideas are allowed to radiate their influence and feed the session with associations linked to the student’s own words and concepts. .
Basking is thus reassuring for students and tutors, as it helps to keep a session focused and coherent as well as making it the student’s own creation-shaped around their ideas.
So for illustration’s sake and also for the sake of preserving anonymity let’s make up a tuition about a short story called Afterward by Edith Wharton, and see how this ‘basking’ in words works and how threading a phrase/idea through a discussion gives the debate a sense of mutual respect and positive acknowledgment- as we all like to be listened to and truly heard.
Edith Wharton’s Afterward tale is a ghost story and ends like this:
Parvis continued to scrutinize her, as if trying to intercept her gaze.
“We saw him from the roof,” she went on. “He came down the lime avenue toward the house. He was dressed just as he is in that picture. My husband saw him first. He was frightened, and ran down ahead of me; but there was no one there. He had vanished.”
“Elwell had vanished?” Parvis faltered.
“Yes.” Their two whispers seemed to grope for each other. “I couldn’t think what had happened. I see now. He tried to come then; but he wasn’t dead enough — he couldn’t reach us. He had to wait for two months; and then he came back again — and Ned went with him.”
She nodded at Parvis with the look of triumph of a child who has successfully worked out a difficult puzzle. But suddenly she lifted her hands with a desperate gesture, pressing them to her bursting temples.
“Oh, my God! I sent him to Ned — I told him where to go! I sent him to this room!” she screamed out.
She felt the walls of the room rush toward her, like inward falling ruins; and she heard Parvis, a long way off, as if through the ruins, crying to her, and struggling to get at her. But she was numb to his touch, she did not know what he was saying. Through the tumult she heard but one clear note, the voice of Alida Stair, speaking on the lawn at Pangbourne.
“You won’t know till afterward,” it said. “You won’t know till long, long afterward.”
Janet) What do you find strange about this ending?
A) How can a ghost not be ‘dead enough’-now that is weird?!
Janet) Dead enough for what?
‘A) Dead enough to do what ghosts are all about- to scare you and to keep coming back and to disrupt your life.
Janet) You know the story is called Afterward and I was wondering how being ‘dead enough’ fits in with the title Afterward?
A) Not really sure, but ‘Afterward’ it says you know,’ long Afterward’ so we have to wait to find out about the ghost and then it is horrible because then you know about the results of being dead enough!
Janet) That is a horrible irony because as you are saying when the ghost is dead enough your mind is really alive enough to ‘know’ the truth!
A) Yes. Dead enough to make the reader ALIVE enough to FEAR! And because the story is called Afterward it makes me think of time and death too. But I am not quite sure why. Maybe because the story ends with looking back(Afterward) on what has happened and making the dead enough thing alive enough to know. Memory seems to destroy the person who is remembering as well as the one carried away by the dead enough ghost!
Janet) You are right about playing with ‘dead enough’ and ‘afterward’ and act of looking and looking back. For there is something about perspective in the extract when the ghost is seen ‘down the lime avenue’ but not being able to ‘reach us.’ So it all ties in with things getting up alive again and being visible to the ‘eye/I’ even though they are dead, or rather when they are dead ENOUGH. Now that makes me shudder a little?
A) Exactly. DEAD ENOUGH to have the power to be a dangerous ghost who can take away the living and leave survivors nearly dead with shock!
The Woman in Black
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