It is in fact nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail." —Albert Einstein
What do you notice when you walk outside in the morning?
Me, I notice how the light is dappled differently through the east-facing trees in September than it is in July. I notice the smell of toasting bread from the corner bakery. I notice that some mornings the grass is heavy with dew. I notice the remnants of a car window smashed into the street. I notice an older woman rushing to the #60 bus and my neighbor languidly walking his dog with coffee in hand. Even in my own frantic race out of the house, I notice. And that noticing usually turns into wondering—sometimes on task (“What exactly is the dew point, again?” and “I wonder whose car got broken into?”), sometimes not (“Why is adult life just one big rush to get everywhere and still always end up late?”).
This is just the fabric of my mind’s life: noticing and wondering, wondering and noticing. In other words, I take for granted that I am curious and that curiosity drives my experience of the world.
It’s been a while since I’ve felt the first-day butterflies. Whether because I’ve been teaching the same classes over and over, or teaching online, or teaching adults who are a little less nerve-wracking, the first teaching day of a semester has morphed into being just another day of work.
But not last week.
While living in Mexico, I joked that speaking Spanish forced me to be far more Zen about life: Since I could only speak in the present tense, I was forced to just live in that present tense.
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