Once upon a time…
The idea for a harmonious life began to germinate in the mind of a young boy—a boy with four first names, Patrick Joseph-Terry Michael—a long time ago. The Adirondack Mountains provided the fertile setting of the first three institutes—a pine tree, the Windsor Hotel and the Fire Tower, which were a series of actual places where the boy went to ruminate in safety and peaceful solitude about the age-old question: What does it mean to be happy? Patrick Joseph-Terry Michael felt threatened by many conflicts, troubling events and forces, both from within himself and from without. No one he knew had the answer to his questions.
The first Institute for the Advancement of Humankind was in a pine tree! The boy with four first names would shimmy up and disappear among the branches, swaying in the breeze, looking out from Hurricane Mountain to other high peaks of the Adirondacks. Here was a magical place of dense pine and spruce forests, of hemlock “bearded with moss,” of legend and history, once the home of the Iroquoian tribes. Here, time seemed to stand still, and Patrick Joseph-Terry Michael felt a little bit like Rip Van Winkle, the man who slept through it all, only to wake to a new reality. In the pine tree, he was part of the myths and stories he had read in the library of Hurricane Heights, his uncle's old house in the even older Elizabethtown.
The idea of the Patagucci Institute for the Advancement of Humankind is relatively recent, but which has been on my mind a long time. In my private practice where I mostly see kids with issues, labels and problems I’ve often wondered: What will help engage THAT student? What will move them along? How can I motivate them?
The Firetower on Hurricane Mountain was the boy’s last Institute for the Advancement of Humankind. It required a lot of planning but was an adventure to hike. As is usual with every Adirondack adventure, the boy with four first names, had to leave early in the morning in order to reach the spindly spider-like affair of rusted metal, with a strange little shack on top. The journey entailed an arduous hike through the woods to a wonderful flower-laden meadow, then over a few streams, following a path up by the sugarhouse, up again, and around a huge, steep cliff, a bald granite peak, worn, like an old man's scalp. The cliff signaled the half way point, and climbing became steeper and steeper through an ever thinning forest, until just scrub and rock remained.
Our library organizes forty eight virtues along an positive executive function model. You can use the words to acknowledge growth and affirm change in your child, a co-worker or a student. Harmonious Development is the idea that effort produces change in individuals. Outcomes do matter, yet they are not the complete picture. Certificates of Harmonious Development recognize the internal outcome of effort. They signify that you recognize something of great value in the recipient. To students who struggle, or coworkers who strive or students who study hard, words matter. As people seek to master tasks at hand, there is something of great value - greater than accomplishing a goal, that occurs.
What matters is that others understand the nature of their effort, the unseen aspects of self actualization and efficacy. The purpose of Certificates of Harmonious Development are to acknowledge the recipients for their inner accomplishments.