The Invitation, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, invites people to experience the world in a different way, offering a world with no limits or restrictions on what is possible. In this society we have a contrived idea of the one way to succeed. This constant push for a singular misled goal makes it difficult for people to summon the bravery to follow their own path. Both the poem and Big Picture express this new type of experience as a better way to live and to learn.
Many people find that school or a career is very restrictive, not allowing them to pursue things that they may be interested in or discouraging a creative approach in favour of something more traditional. Big Picture seeks to break those boundaries so students are able to learn in the way they choose. In my BP career I have often encountered points where I realised I was no longer interested in my project or what I was doing at all. At these moments, I always ask myself what it is that I would most like to be doing and attempt to make my project reflect that desire. Similarly, the text states, “I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.” Big Picture truly is what you make it, for better or for worse. Some people choose to tackle big projects and some people stick to the familiar. I try to keep in mind the things that make me excited to be alive and weave them into each project.
Sometimes, a project will not come to pass as expected, and in this circumstance it is important to admit failure in some sense, analyse the circumstances, and either take a different direction or plan for the future. In classes, failing a test or project is often taken as a bad thing but in Big Picture we recognise that failure is just as important to recognise as success if not more so. Failure will happen in life, no matter what, and it is important to know what to do and how to move forward. Mountain Dreamer asks, “I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, ‘Yes.’” She mentions not only personal failure, but also that of others. Since Big Picture is a community based program, everyone is affected in some small way by the failure of another whether that be a letdown or an inspiration to take a project in a different direction.
Finally, people in BP come from all walks of life, each one seeking their own path to vitality. The background of each member certainly matters but doesn’t define their ability to be part of the program. Each of us has found the program in our own way, and chose to be here because of the things that join us- deep curiosity and the belief that we can do things in a more exciting, interesting, and fulfilling way than the rest of the pack. The poem echoes this with, “It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.” Creating your own education is hard, like standing in the center of a fire, but the ability to press through will be useful not only in the future of Big Picture, but in life itself.
Oriah Mountain Dreamer and Big Picture seem to share the same sentiments on how to approach life and education. Philosopher John Dewey states, “Cease conceiving of education as mere preparation for later life, and make it the full meaning of the present life.” I think this is relevant because life and education are often separated but in truth they are one and the same. In my time at Big Picture, I have undergone quite a remarkable transformation in thought processes around what it means to be successful and I know now that the adventure of being alive is more important than any grade I could be given.