I’ve been aware for a while that I practice a special kind of curiosity when I walk my dog. He loves to sniff around and, when he can, eat stuff off the ground. Usually it’s harmless, like someone’s old pizza crusts. At the same time, I can’t help being aware that there are people who put out poison or booby-trapped treats for dogs (treats with pins stuck in them, for example).
So, what’s this special kind of curiosity? I watch as he sniffs and try to let him sniff as freely as possible while remaining open to the fact that I may need to intervene and take something out of his mouth very quickly. It’s really quite an active kind of curiosity. No daydreaming, no letting the thoughts wander. I have to be there.
This evening I proctored an exam. Suddenly I got the feeling that my role is very similar to when I walk my dog. I’m keeping an eye on the students to make sure they don’t cheat, but I don’t want to intervene unnecessarily and break their concentration. The comparison brought a smile to my face.