Today I had a number of chances to practice curiosity but failed to, mainly because of time pressure. “On a Saturday?” I hear you asking. Yes, on a Saturday. I invited friends to dinner this evening. Because some of them were going to the theater after, I said blithely, “Come at 5.” (I usually eat around 7 or 8 so 5 o’clock is something of a departure for me.) I was making a dish I had never made before (great opportunity to practice curiosity) and needed some slightly exotic ingredients–like safran–so on top of making something new I also needed to go to a different supermarket (another great opportunity to practice curiosity). With the exception of a brief, pleasant, and helpful consultation with a salesperson in the wine department, it was nothing but stress. I couldn’t find anything at first, not knowing the layout, and being short of time did not see it as a chance to practice but rather as an obstacle to overcome. It took me an hour to do what usually takes 20 minutes and I didn’t really enjoy any of it, didn’t enjoy feeling incompetent and didn’t enjoy watching the minutes tick away. Cooking was similarly stressful, not helped by the fact that three out of four guests arrived 15 minutes early.
The food was good, but basically this episode shows me that you can have great conditions in which to practice curiosity but if it isn’t in your mind and heart you won’t practice. And yet the great irony is that if I had been able to open up in spite of the pressure, I’m sure both the shopping and the cooking would have been more relaxed and enriching–and just fun.