You, Me and Einstein
August 15, 2017
Albert Einstein so famously said, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” WAIT A SECOND!!! This means Einstein and I have more in common than I ever thought possible. This changes everything!
Too many times in my life, I have beat myself up for making the “wrong” choice, not living up to so-and-so’s expectations, falling short of what someone else has accomplished, struggling to understand a topic that seems to come so naturally to someone else, failing to physically achieve what another person seems so effortlessly equipped for. When I sit with memories of these times and notice what I experience (physically, emotionally and mentally), I feel stress, pressure, strain, regret, anger, resentment, and not good enough. I make the mistake of viewing these things through a societal worldly lens that leaves me, every single time, feeling less than.
Here enters curiosity, my new friend.
I believe I’ve always been naturally curious. In fact, I believe we all are. Babies are short, chubby, slobbering balls of curiosity who grow into slightly less-short toddling, clumsy, still-slobbering, babbling branches of curiosity who stick everything they pick up into their mouths because they simply live to explore.
…Then life happens. We quickly learn what is acceptable and what is not. We get scolded for seeing what a grasshopper tastes like. We are told to be quiet when we squawk loudly while mom is on the phone. We get hissed at and scratched when wondering, “what happens if I yank real hard on this cat’s tail?” As life progresses, we learn more explicit lessons about expectations and what is acceptable versus what is not. The ramifications become more severe. The consequences leave deeper scars. Parts of us remember the hurtful or scary places where curiosity lead us and we, as individuals and a society, believe the answer is to turn away from it and, instead, put our trust in certainty and things that are known.
I get it. In some ways, this evolution of caution makes a lot of sense. I think its fair to say that we all sustain a level of perceived safety in certainty.
Unfortunately, this world is not a place where certainty is ever ever ever guaranteed. What’s that quote about certainty? Something to the effect of, “the only thing that is constant is change”? Okay, so if that’s true and if we want to be as prepared as possible for everything that is to come in our lives (aka, guaranteed change), then wouldn’t it make sense to hone the tool and tactic that will facilitate this readiness?!
Brace yourself for the best news you will hear all day… you are already ready. You are already equipped for everything that will come your way. You were born with this magical tool and tactic; CURIOSITY. And I know, I know… life has dealt you a bunk hand and your innocent, trusting sense of curiosity has been smacked in the face by a large floppy flying fish (likely something more harmful than a fish, once or twice). That past relationship left you licking your wounded paws and retreating to a place of old familiar certainty with your tail between your legs. (Are you still sitting there?) Or perhaps you’ve been applauded for forcing your way to the top, achieving more (faster, bigger, or with more acknowledgement) than anyone else… but at what cost? Did you sacrifice your sense of calm? Your sanity? Your compassion? I can relate.
I am going to pursue writing in this blog on the topic of curiosity because something deep in my guts has been telling me to for more than a year now. I have no clue what it is going to look like or what topics I will cover or what stories I will tell. I definitely don’t know if anyone will read it or not. I have zero idea what I’m doing. Seriously, I’m sitting here typing on this screen in full awareness that I am almost completely directionless. I’m not a writer. I’m not a philosopher. I’m just one small person, totally messed up in so many ways. I have no special talents.
But then, neither did Einstein.
by Sara Waters, MA, LPCC