Freeze (The Letter)

Dear Readers,

How are you?

We write to you after a hiatus of three months, during the course of which we have seen large swathes of social unrest from Hong Kong to Santiago de Chile, fires consuming the Amazon, Canary Islands and Australia, floods in India, Bangladesh, Somalia and Italy, record levels of air pollution… need I carry on? Oh, and the price of milk’s gone up. Meanwhile, the Bristol Wellbeing College has suffered staff illnesses, undergone major structural changes to its courses, welcomed in a new manager Sally Easton as well as nearly 150 new learners. From the entire world down to the tiny corner of it occupied by this office, it has felt at times that, “we are fighting fire with a hose that has hardly any water left in it,” (thank you to our Quality and Review Officer Matt for that, er, quality review).

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just freeze time within one of those moments in which everything just feels OK? One of those moments like a late summer evening, for example, when everything is tinged with gold and there is nothing to do but lie in the grass and watch the sky turn from quartz pink to deep-sea blue. A wellbeing eternity.  Unfortunately, not even the Bristol Wellbeing College has the power to conjure such a thing. Instead, what we can offer is a few moments’ respite. One of my favourite ways to do this is in the form of an activity called Freeze the Letter.

The activity involves participants thinking of someone or something they would like to write a letter to. They begin writing the letter but after one minute, the letter ‘freezes’. Everyone folds their paragraph over so it cannot be read and hands the paper to the person next to them. The clock starts up again for another minute and everyone continues to write their letter where they left off, but on the new piece of paper. The result is a montage of paragraphs of thoughts written to different recipients, from a cup of coffee to Donald Trump. Little snapshots of thought, taken out of context, anonymised and rearranged on a page together. The effect is surreal, funny and, sometimes, surprisingly fluid. Reading these frozen letters, I often feel touched at how the diverse personalities and varying emotions of the group are unified on this one page in a way that can only bring a smile. In the greater context of things, that is one way we might fight fire when our hose has hardly any water left in it.

Click on the links, keep an open mind and enjoy!

Freeze the letter I and II

Freeze the letter III

Have fun, keep smiling and stay unified,

With best wishes,

Bristol Wellbeing College

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