All along the way, people have asked me if writing this blog is worth it and want to know what I’ve learned or what I’m getting out of it. Here are some answers:
- Yes, it’s definitely been worth it. There have been times when I was really busy and it was very hard to write something, but I am glad I stuck with it.
- One reason I’m glad is that I am simply proud of myself for carrying through. It’s very easy for me to get distracted by the next shiny idea, but I stuck with this and feel good about that.
- I’m also proud that I overcame my perfectionism (the desire for the perfect so often stands in the way of the good in my life) and simply wrote. Many many times I would have liked to go deeper, do a more comprehensive look into an aspect of curiosity, find the perfect graphic to illustrate something, or simply find the perfect turn of phrase. I could have let that keep me from posting anything, but I didn’t. I got out there and posted anyway. This is a lesson I need to learn, and writing this blog every day was a little like boot camp.
- Although I haven’t made as much progress this year in actually living with curiosity as I would have liked, I have learned new ways and created new patterns for practicing. These will stand me in good stead in the future, I know.
- Especially in the last month or so I feel as if the project is gaining some momentum. Engaging with people and situations with greater curiosity does seem to be becoming more natural.
- Not only do I have new ideas about things I can be curious about (132 mentions of this category, after all), I also have ideas about different kinds of curiosity I didn’t have before, a list of exercises I can practice to keep my hand in, and a kind of action plan.
- I also have a greater store of images as to how curiosity can be lived and how it can feel. Just one example here.
- For the most part, it’s been fun. I’ve really enjoying thinking about, analyzing, and writing about things–and, above all, pushing myself to practice. It has been an enriching hobby this year.
- I’ve had conversations and connected with people—not least those dear people who read my blog—in ways I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t worked on this blog. (More about that tomorrow.)
To the existing list of hindrances, I would like to add:
- Fear of looking foolish
- An environment that discourages curiosity
The last few weeks I’ve been re-reading my blog from beginning to (not quite) end. I wanted to catch up with what I had written—and there were a number of things I’d completely forgotten—and also do some organizing of categories and tags. This has helped me get a better grasp of, for example, the helps and hindrances. Below the most common elements:
- Practicing: doing exercises but also just reminding oneself in everyday life
- Reminders: post-it notes, to-do list, A4 piece of paper with CURIOSITY written on it, friends and other readers of this blog, writing a blog on the topic 😉 and so on
- Taking time: clear, I think
- Travel: just a natural opportunity to explore new things openly
- Confidence: a counterpart to fear, which appears on the Hindrances list
- Interest: a natural pull in the direction of curiosity
Rather belatedly it has occurred to me that having someone to practice curiosity with could be a big help, for fun, accountability, and ideas.
- Anger and/or violent disagreement
- Fear and/or danger
- Pressure (I used this for time pressure and other kinds of pressure like performance pressure)
- Worry (milder than fear)
I also believe that having expanded my awareness of “Things to be curious about” (another category, in fact, I think the one I used most frequently), is a big help.
The weekend. I could have been curious as I went shopping and had to figure out where to find certain things on my list. I could have been curious as I tried to replace the washer in my bathroom faucet. I could have been curious as I prepared a new recipe with an ingredient, quinoa, I have only used once before. I could have been, and I might have enjoyed the day more. Sadly, I wasn’t and didn’t. I was too intent in each case on achieving a certain goal in as short a time as possible. Ah, well.
As we approach the wire I am, to my surprise, still discovering new aspects of practicing curiosity. Today it was the realization that social norms can act as a powerful hindrance. I was walking past a house this afternoon and could hear the family talking and laughing in the garden behind the trees that protected their privacy. It sounded lively and like a great deal of fun. I would have loved to observe for a bit–my natural curiosity was piqued–but I realized that would make me something of a Peeping Tom and moved on with a bit of regret.
This morning out of nowhere I experienced again something I’ve written about before–a softening of my face, especially around the eyes, that feels like openness. I first experienced it in Tai Chi and knew (but had forgotten) that I could open my mind and awareness by relaxing the muscles around my eyes. It was nice to be reminded.
It’s funny. I’ve written fairly often about how work pressure and to-do lists make it harder for me to be curious. Now I’m on vacation and I find I’m almost too relaxed to be curious. I am re-reading one of my favorite books, ate something for dinner I know I like, swam at a place I’ve swum countless times. It’s all great, but none of it is new, and I find I’m not even moved to practice curiosity by comparison. Perhaps tomorrow …