The Most Useful Gift

I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity. – Eleanor Roosevelt

I noticed something a while back – I stopped asking why.

I accepted things. I almost just didn’t even notice unusual things or things I didn’t understand. They were just swept aside, categorized as unknown and left at that. I think I have a fear of not knowing, of being ridiculed for what I don’t understand. I don’t know what eventually made me stop and wonder what I was missing, but I started to notice. I woke up. How many interesting things in the world had I missed because I didn’t ask why? Because I didn’t try to learn something new?

I almost felt like I’d been robbed. It’s so easy to get stuck – you take the same way to work every day, you go to the same stores, you walk the same paths. It’s routine, and there are some lovely things about routine, but it’s also so easy to forget to pursue something else. Time seems to pass so quickly when you have a routine. Your days run together and you can’t pick out one from the other. There were times in the last year or so that felt scary fast, like time was slipping away too quickly and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

But there is something I can do to slow it down. As this New York Times article says, “the velocity of time is a big fat cognitive illusion” and you slow it down by asking questions, learning new things, pursuing interests. “Become a student again,” learn. Be curious. Ask.

I started a new job a few weeks ago and it truly does feel like the past few months have crawled. In fact, it hasn’t even been two months. It’s barely been a month and a week! I’ve learned so many new things. It’s a completely new industry and a completely new job. I’m on my toes constantly, trying to observe and learn as much as possible. Last week I gave my first training and I think I did a great job. It was amazing to feel that satisfaction again.

I’m the kind of person who easily gets frustrated when I can’t master something quickly and I just need to get over that. I have been pining to learn to knit for years, but give up because I’m already good at crocheting and I’ll just go crochet something. I forget that it took me a lot of time and a lot of scarves that were shaped like triangles to learn how to crochet well. Knitting isn’t something I can’t do. It’s something I haven’t been willing to devote the time to practicing.

I saw a quote from Bob Ross on tumblr recently and it was a good reminder: “Talent is a pursued interest. Anything that you’re willing to practice you can do.” If I want to knit, all I have to do is practice. I want to do a lot of things. I am interested in learning how to build furniture. We need three bookshelves and I don’t want to just buy them, I’d love to be able to build them myself. I found a four week woodworking class at a local community center on building for less than $200. Then I found all their other classes. There are SO MANY things I can learn and try. Botanical drawing. Stargazing. Sewing. Calligraphy. I can’t wait to sign up for my first class.

This is a thought that has really been spinning in my head since we moved. I don’t want to be a person who doesn’t use the greatest gift of curiosity. I don’t want to be a person who doesn’t learn, doesn’t ask why. I don’t want to be a person who is too lazy and discouraged to try and master something. So I’m trying. I’m reminding myself. I’m telling myself. Learn. Be curious. Ask. It’s my new mantra. It’s a perfect gift to myself.

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4 thoughts on “The Most Useful Gift

  1. I love being curious about everything: it keeps life so interesting. And collecting hobbies is fun too. So I really resonated with this post!

    Knitting is, imo, easier to learn than crocheting. I’ve become a total knitting addict. 🙂 Once you’ve gotten the knit & purl down, I highly recommend reading Elizabeth Zimmerman’s books. They’re so inspiring & relaxing & interesting all at once!

  2. Love this post! My current read, Byrd, said something so wonderful: “I have learned that it’s possible to become satisfied with your life too soon.” I think that’s part of what you’re talking about — when you settle into your life and don’t seek out new experiences, it’s easy to get that feeling of comfort and not go searching for the next thing. (Not you! I mean ‘one,’ or actually, I mean me. :p)

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