I met a new friend this year – a big slab of walnut that I call Fred. The tree-form of Fred had fallen a few years back, and some terrific craftspeople transformed the trunk into what will soon be a desk in my new home. Fred has whooshes and whirlpools and waves all throughout the grain, and I’ve spent a fair amount of time tracing the different patterns and researching tree growth so that I can interpret what conditions led to the various shapes and swirls that persist even now, decades later.
I’ve met a lot of people this year, too (far fewer than in a regular year, of course) and it occurs to me that few of them have inspired Fred-like curiosity. I’m so often impatient with people, and quick to judge. And to be sure, in a pandemic and a painfully divisive political climate, it’s pretty hard to be open and friendly even with our dearest ones. But if I were as curious about my fellow humans as I am about Fred, or honeybees, or IPO’s, I might discover what led to the swirl of an idea that a person holds, or the swoosh of a character trait, or the scar that still shows in a certain light.
It occurs to me that curiosity might be the key to everything.
Even as I type, in my head I’m hearing a whisper, “curiosity killed the cat.” But I also just learned that the original phrase was, “care killed the cat.”
Curiosity and care are cousins, even in the proverbs.
Dear ones, let’s be curious.
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