I was at a concert this evening, thanks to the generosity of a friend who couldn’t use her ticket. It had a lot of the right ingredients to transport me but didn’t, and, yes, I feel that is partly the fault of the singer–from the song choices on the first half of the program, to the almost total lack of diction, to her scooping and singing flat quite a bit of the time.
Ordinarily, I become incredibly judgmental, especially because she is world famous and singing on the greatest stages of the world. This time, because it is the Year of Living Curiously, I tried to turn that around. I told myself that she is world famous so there must be a reason, and I listened and watched to see if I could find the reason. Honestly, while the second half of the program suited her and her voice much better, I couldn’t figure it out. This approach felt different though. It felt as if I had been fair and as if I could try again, recognizing that perhaps she was having a bad night or is better on the opera stage. I won’t go out of my way to hear her again, but I won’t go out of my way to not hear her again either.
It turns out that you can practice curiosity not only when buying a laptop but also when setting one up. When I got my last laptop, the one that is still my main laptop, I actually invested in getting a techie in to set it up properly for me. Because I am only planning to use this one in a limited way I didn’t want to spend the money this time and so have been working on the set-up myself. (Luckily, it’s kind of cloudy today, a good day to be indoors and working on something like this.)
This computer has Windows 10 on it and my other one has some earlier program (that tells you how much I know about technology, I think it’s Windows XP, but I wouldn’t want to bet any money on it), which means it has taken some trial and correction* to get the volume set up the way I want and a free program downloaded to show videos and a few other things configured. Tomorrow I’ll work on getting the free version of Office I believe I’m entitled to through one of the universities where I teach. For today I have done enough searching and testing and so on.
* “Trial and correction” is the phrase Timothy Gallwey of The Inner Game fame uses. He feels, and I agree, that it is more accurate than “trial and error”.
Yesterday I set off for the second time to look at new laptops. What’s wrong with the one I have? A while ago it got dropped. It still works as well as it ever did, but because it landed on a corner and the hinge got damaged I can no longer open and close with any ease or confidence. Clearly, this rather gets in the way of its usefulness as a laptop, especially for someone like me who carries it around a lot, mainly to show PowerPoint presentations.
The above story means that I had a very specific idea of what I wanted. I don’t need a good computer for home. I have that, even if it is five years old. I was looking for something as inexpensive as possible to carry around. Nonetheless, I let the salesman, who (as far as I could tell) was very knowledgeable and helpful explain a few different models to me. I went home with the least expensive model that fit my needs, but being open to what he was telling me means that I feel good about the choice I made. I felt I was informed.
I’ve written about this corner before, here. This morning there were several reasons I could have reacted now as I did then. There were just as many people, a young woman with a bicycle had decided to have a chat with a friend right on the corner, my foot and ankle hurt, and I was worried about my mother.
One huge difference (for me) though was that I had enough time. Because I knew I had enough time I had consciously decided to pay attention and be curious about the walk over to my 9 o’clock appointment. When the stresses started piling up, I just observed—observed what was going on around me and also within me. I remained calm and happy.
One point for curiosity.
A meeting with my financial advisor and a coaching session on building my business have left me feeling overwhelmed. To tell the truth, I woke up feeling as if someone had hit me over the head (the sudden heat, perhaps?) and never really got to feeling better in the course of the day.
All this is not conducive to practicing curiosity although consciously introducing a bit of mindful curiosity into my activities did briefly help me feel better.
Michel de Montaigne said (and this I remember because it was the topic of one of my college application essays) that the journey is more important than the arrival. Luckily, we managed to achieve both yesterday.
I was out walking with a friend and my dog along a trail we had not been on for a number of years and never very often and we simply explored. It was an exquisite day (although it did get a bit hot towards the end) and a beautiful place and so we walked without worrying too much about where we were going and how we were going to get there. It was incredibly relaxing and fun.
That may not have been exactly what Montaigne meant, but it worked for us.
Yesterday was a holiday, as I mentioned, and I did very little. (It was great.) At the same time, I have to say I did not do nothing. The workshop I ran on Wednesday went well, and I think a number of factors contributed to that, but there were still a few points I thought could have been better designed for this particular group and this particular occasion. Yesterday I found myself being drawn into a reflection on what else I could have done. Something like that is, for me, always connected with curiosity because it means thinking of various alternatives and trying to be creative about those and then imagining what would have fit the particular situation better. I did end up with an outcome, but the process–and motivation–definitely started with curiosity.