If you subscribe to my monthly newsletter, you already know that I’ll be setting monthly themes to my blogs and other writing.
I made a list of words that seem to hold some sort of meaning as I think about the year ahead. Words that resonate, that give me a little bit of a buzz of curiosity. Words that seem to be that gateway to more words.
I will pick one or two of these words to use as a monthly theme. I’ll let these words infuse into my blog posts—I’ll think of them as a lens to influence my writing.
I also said I’d use these words as freewriting prompts and post what I write.
Here is this month’s (which I’ll also post to my Facebook page): What do I mean by curiosity?
Here’s what I wrote in 15 minutes of free-writing by hand, very minimally edited:
This month’s theme is curiosity. What do I mean by curiosity? For me, there is a level of practicing curiosity as an antidote to judgment. For instance, if I catch myself mindlessly scrolling through Twitter, or thinking it’s really important to spend time organizing my calendar or emails as a way of procrastination, the judgment part of my brain likes to scold myself: “Erin, I can’t believe you’re doing that. Again. You don’t want to do that. You shouldn’t do that. What’s wrong with you?” A curious mind would instead ask, “Erin, do you notice what you’re doing? How are you feeling? Why do you think you’re finding comfort in that activity? Do you think you might be scared? Unsure? Do you not feel like you deserve to follow your desires? What’s going on?”
Curiosity isn’t just the three-year-old incessantly asking “why” until you run out of answers. It’s also the caring friend, the therapist, the spouse, asking, “What’s wrong? How do you feel?” It’s also, yes cliche, the curious, playful cat. There’s an element of play, of lightness, that we lose when we are burdened by life and loss and decisions and being busy. We think everything has to have importance, weight, meaning. We have to always want to improve, to make a difference, to do and be better. Curiosity brings back some of that childlike wonder. Running because it feels good, not because of a number on the scale or on the clock. Writing because of the release of words, not to become a multimillionaire with a book deal. And, of course it’s the prime of irony that pursuing what we love simply because we love it will in itself make us better, help us to master it, which increases our chances of being outwardly successful.
Curiosity allows us to wonder what we might want to do rather than forcing ourselves into what we think we are supposed to do–that evil word “should.” Curiosity takes the pressure off, it allows us to look at problems with fresh eyes, to see problems as challenges rather than obstacles, it takes us out of being a martyr in our own lives, suffering. Instead, we can rise above, see the bigger picture, wonder, “Hmm, what’s going on here?” instead of “That’s wrong because it goes against my expectations.” How we’d all be happier with ourselves and with each other if we could remember that life is one big question mark?
And now, your turn! Set a timer, or fill up a page. Or just ponder and absorb what you’ve thought as a form of meditation. Ask a friend what they think. Share what you’re comfortable sharing in the comments or on Facebook!