I was at the hairdresser’s and saw a chance to practice curiosity with (on? ;-)) my hairdresser. I’m aware from conversations in the past that we are pretty much at opposite ends of the political spectrum. When she made a brief comment about shopping on Sundays (something you can’t, for various reasons, do much of in Austria), I weighed up the pros and cons of asking for her opinion of it. The argument that it would almost certainly be a great chance to practice curiosity tipped the scales in that direction, and so I asked.
She very calmly gave her opinion and laid out her good arguments in favor of Sunday shopping. What did I do? Did I honor this? Not really. I, with some heat, laid out my, also good, arguments against Sunday shopping. Even as I heard myself speak, I was ashamed of myself. I mean, I asked for her opinion and then mowed her down with mine without even ACKNOWLEDGING what she had said. A big fat curiosity failure. No wonder I don’t practice that particular kind of curiosity more often! It’s just too painful. And yet, if I don’t practice it, how will I learn it?
A couple of points:
- I did realize on reflection that one reason I reacted so strongly is that I feel threatened by the whole issue, and as I have already learned fear makes curiosity difficult. Why do I feel threatened??? I live on a busy street. Sunday is the only day that is at all quiet, and I value, love, and appreciate that quiet. If the stores are open, I won’t even have that one day.
- It doesn’t help that on a moral note I think we are all way too obsessed with shopping. I personally feel it really can’t hurt to have one day a week when we collectively are forced to turn our thoughts to something else.
- The fact that I understood her arguments and had a sense of where they were coming from did not help me remain open at all. For example, one point she mentioned was unemployment, and she’s quite right. Having the stores open on Sundays would create jobs and lower unemployment numbers. I know that she and her husband have worked very hard not necessarily at jobs they love and spent very carefully to have what they have. I understand that they have no wish to subsidize others. I also understand that she feels it is a freedom issue, the government shouldn’t be deciding for people. As I said, all of that didn’t help me remain open, even though I somehow feel it should have.
Ah, well. This whole sad story is one reason I decided to spend a year of my life practicing curiosity and writing about it. It just seems I still have quite a long way to go.