I started collecting quotes and poems when I was 11. It’s a distinct memory because I won a poetry contest in April of my 6th grade year and attended an awards ceremony held in the youth section of the library–a favorite haven of mine. I’ll never forget being handed a forest green blank journal as a prize, with curlicues of embossed gold swooping across the cover, my poem inscribed in someone else’s perfect penmanship on the first page.
I felt daunted by a whole book of blank white, but I jumped in and used my just-about-to-enter-junior-high summer capturing ideas that mattered to me in that little book. I interspersed wise words from others with thoughts of my own, writing more poems, jotting notes, and using the pages to capture snippets of song lyrics, quotes, and others’ poems I loved. I started to recognize a great love for words.
The forest green volume wasn’t my first journal, but it was was different from the others. It’s the one that, looking back, points to my future as an English major and librarian who sort of minored in philosophy and human development. I had begun compiling.
Fast forward exactly 40 years, to April, 2018. After continuing to collect words of wisdom and favorite poems across the years, I had the pleasure of editing and publishing a small but mighty book of readings with EL Education, where I worked for 14 years, called There is More In Us Than We Know. It’s a collection of quotes and short readings organized by topics including service and contribution, leadership, teaching and learning, character, craftsmanship, equity and social justice—topics that reflect the heart of what EL Education is about and echo back to the summer when my innocence began to morph into deeper inquiry. There is also a list of 25 recommended poems in the back, which was a beautiful challenge to curate.
The book of readings is inspired by Outward Bound tradition. As part of my path with experiential education, I took a few OB courses in my time. Every Outward Bound trip leader I knew faithfully carried a favorite book of readings in a Ziplock bag, keeping it handy for the opportune moment to salt in a gem of humor, insight, or new perspective.
Though EL Education has carried on the tradition of using readings, until now there hasn't been a collection to reflect the fullness of the organization, beyond its roots in adventure and teamwork. We also learned that far too many previously published books of readings sorely neglect the voices of women and people of color, and this volume is intentionally balanced and inclusive. Nevertheless, it is fitting that the title of the book references Kurt Hahn, founder of Outward Bound, whose fuller quote reads:
“There is more in us than we know. If we could be made to see it, perhaps for the rest of our lives, we will be unwilling to settle for less.”
I find this sentiment so fitting as a way to capture key ideas of both EL Education and Only to Grow: our depths are boundless, life is about learning, and we need each other’s help along the way to discover what is possible.
This little book is a heartfelt way to celebrate EL Education’s 25th anniversary and serve as a parting gift to the organization from which I have learned so much. In tribute to the wisdom of giants, upon whose shoulders we stand, as well as to the wisdom that resides within each one of us, I’m proud to launch into the world There Is More In Us Than We Know.