I am participating in Kat McNally’s April Moon 14, a two week reflective writing challenge. Each day, Kat sends an email with a single word prompt to spark some time during the powerful time between the total lunar eclipse and the full moon. Participate with us!
The prompt for day 13 is
What feelings does this word evoke? What sorts of memories does it recall? Which of your senses start to tingle? How would you represent what this word means to you?
When I think about curious, I think about all those road trips I’ve taken. I grew up with a mother who was a truck driver – someone paid to get from point A to point B in the safest and quickest manner possible. When we were younger, and we were taking a trip in the car, we were getting there. No stops off the main road. Efficient. The trip wasn’t about the journey, it was totally about the destination and just getting there.
As an adult and on my own road trips, most of the time, I adopted the same philosophy. It always seemed that I needed to get where I was going – leaving Reno to get to Mississippi to start graduate school. Up and out the door by 5:00 on a Saturday morning and pulling in to the dorm parking lot at 6:00 Sunday night. That route looks like this:
There wasn’t any time in those trips to stop at all the little spots that might have piqued my curiosity, although I did allow myself the time to stop at Hoover Dam and at least take photos (although I didn’t give myself time to actually do more than look around. I didn’t do a tour, look at exhibits, etc. Took a few pictures to document it and then moved on). On those trips I didn’t even have the time (really) to stop and sleep. I’d pull the car over at a rest stop, truck stop parking lot, or roadside parking area, lock the doors and drift for a few hours. I know it wasn’t the safest, but at the time, it was what worked best.
I’ve made a ton of drives between Hattiesburg, MS and Louisville, KY, and I have rarely stopped at any of the interesting spots along the way. Same with between here and southwest Missouri or Reno to Colorado. Always moving – never enough time to stop and explore.
As I’ve gotten older and the pressure to be somewhere, do something has lessened, I find I’m more willing to stop and explore. To look around. To see a sign and wonder, hey – what’s going on there? What is there that I need to know about? When Sweet Husband and I made our way to New Orleans two weeks ago, we saw a sign for the Chalmette National Battlefield and both said, “I’ve never been there.” I looked at him and said, “We don’t have to be anywhere by a certain time, why not go now?” So we went. And found the spot of the Battle of New Orleans. Neither one of us had any idea that it was right there. We’d heard about it, but beyond that, eh. And there it was.
I think that much like it’s hard to see nuance when you are struggling, I think that when we are stressed or when life is difficult, it is incredibly difficult to be curious. While I don’t have any scientific research to back it up, my hunch is that when we are under pressure, our lives contract and we focus on the things right in front of us – only those things that we have to do, things that must be done, getting through one day and making it to the next one. Curiosity becomes a luxury, and then days or months or years later you wake up and wonder how you lived through that fog.
I feel like I’m coming out the fog and can indulge in curiosity. When I’m going somewhere, I can stop and capture the flowers or take the road along the beach rather than the one through town that might be a little faster. There are pressures still and anxieties, but those things no longer feel like life-altering pressures. They aren’t crushing me; I can breathe and look around me. Enjoy the clouds. Notice the lightning flickering in the distance. Walk and notice. Breathe and let the world come in.
What does curiosity mean to you?