Popular authors remind us about “weird, wild, & wonderful,” and it ties into how we like our lives and our relationships. When the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) hosted best-selling authors Amy Stewart (books like: Wicked Plants: The Louse that Conquered Napoleon’s Army…) and Elizabeth Gilbert (book/movie: Eat, Pray, Love), more than just a chat about their most recent books perked up the reception.
While Gilbert shared why her newest novel’s heroine loves moss in The Signature of All Things and as Stewart mused about a cocktail garden to go with the cocktail recipes in her book The Drunken Botanist, a sassy remark swayed the room. Gilbert said, Everyone seems bent on finding and living their passion. I don’t know where passions hide, live, or went. So, how about we just start with curiosity first?
The sound of “aha!” by the audience hinted at evidence known in interpersonal psychology: Few people are willing to be curious about what’s right in front of them. We sit back and wait for the big “wow!” to hit us squarely in the eyes. As Gilbert said, we rarely turn our heads five inches left or right to see something more.
Even if we’ve automatically deemed something boring, life only gets interesting if we decide to listen, look, and then listen, look again. Until we start poking around with the supposedly boring stuff that’s right in front of us, we won’t arrive at a passion. And, if you don’t ever find your passion before you die, then you will have at least been engaged in the life that is. Better than being bored or disappointed.
Curiosity is a learned courage.
And, it’s a courage because to be curious means we have to be less certain about things. We have to give up our ready-made perspectives. We have to be vulnerable. A nifty book and TED Talk on vulnerability is Daring Greatly, written by researcher Brene’ Brown, PhD, LMSW.
To be fascinated with life, we have to free fall into the unknown.
This brings those tell-tale undesirable feelings, the ones that come with any learning curve. No one likes being the freshman. Everyone wants to be the senior. So, most of us sit it out altogether: I’m not really interested. That doesn’t interest me.
We do this in relationships. We want to be understood. We seldom seek to understand first. We just aren’t wired to want to be influenced by others. We tend for control instead. Consciously or unconsciously, we go for being right or being certain about matters and about others. We rarely say, “Hmm, What else might there be to this?” We sacrifice curiosity. We miss out on being fascinated with life.
Enter boredom. Ever hear someone mention how they are bored with their relationship or job? One could wonder, when was it that curiosity departed? Were they five? Twenty? Fifty?
We can be curious about our selves, our worlds, our partners, our partners’ worlds…
With so many thumbprints all different, what’s not to discover yet?
Stewart and Gilbert laughed at their mishaps with curiosity. Waiting to do a book-signing event near the Puget Sound, Stewart sat on a damp bench alone in the fog to find out why the bench was put in a seemingly dull spot. “I’m not much interested,” she thought, “but I’ll give it go.” Oh, and then!
But, this article isn’t about what Amy Stewart found out on that unexpected bench. It’s about how she didn’t bow to boredom.
The NYBG titled their evening with Stewart & Gilbert “Weird, Wild, & Wonderful: An Evening of Art, Women, & Botany.” Up close, plants are weird and wonderful. It’s not “Ho hum, that plant has green leaves.” And, our lives and our partners aren’t just boring green leaves. Stop, look, listen. Up close, we are weird and wonderful. If only we had the courage to be curious. Now that is wild.