When I was in college, I had a friend who went AWOL. It’s one of those long, complicated stories about a young woman in her early 20s who had more stuff going on with her than anyone really understood. But I was her friend, there to help her without judgement and so of course I was her ride to and from and the airport for spring break.
Only, she never was on the returning flight.
Imagine a time back before cell phones and wi-fi were ubiquitous and I had no way to track down my friend. Enter an unusual ally — my grandmother. Somehow, she talked her way through customer service and found out that my friend never went to St. Louis like she had told me she was going to and never got on a return flight. How my grandmother secured that information, I’ll never quite know. But she had a gift for getting people to tell her things. In some ways, she was a bit of a snoop and a busybody (sorry Gram) who drove people crazy with her incessant need to know every detail. But let me say this: She would have made an excellent reporter and while my parents were great role models for me, Gram’s snooping clearly influenced my path to becoming a reporter where you get to snoop for a (some would say) legitimate living.
I thought about this story a lot this week. One of my many jobs is as an adjunct professor in a sports management program where I teach a communications and technology course. With an upcoming guest speaker, I asked students to read his bio, follow him on Twitter and use the power of Google to come up with two interesting questions each to ask. Let me preface this by saying some were good and pretty solid. But some left me scratching my head. Really? And while I could go on a tangent about teaching kids to think critically instead of teaching to pass exams, the real word that sticks in my mind through all of this is curiosity.
When did we stop being curious?
Curiosity is more than just about research (although geek confession time: I love research). Curiosity is about being engaged in your world. I can go through the motions at work or school and do just fine, but the phrase “soul-sucking” comes to mind. Maybe I can’t change the assignment at hand, but I can certainly do some exploration along the way. Curiosity is a key component of my training. Can I get a little faster? Can I go a little further? Can I do more hills?
Curiosity is what leads me outside of my comfort zone. It gets me into mischief. It causes me to make mistakes. And then it deposits me in a place where of discovery. Sometimes it reaffirms what I already know. Sometimes it opens up new possibilities.
What would my day look like if I approached it with curiosity? Not with fear of looking silly or getting it wrong. Not with the gremlin voice telling me to “play it safe” but with openness to and engagement with whatever life brings into my path.