I have noticed the absence of curiosity and creativity in me is a byproduct of being out of integrity with myself. So perhaps curiosity isn’t what killed the proverbial cat, but rather the perpetuation of my own damaging and self-minimizing behaviors that kills, or at the very least smothers, the curious in me. Great news: No cats were harmed in the creation or covering up of anyone’s curiosity! PETA will be so pleased.
Liz Gilbert talks about following her curiosity, and invites her readers to do the same, in her marvelous book, “Big Magic,” which I have read no fewer than five times. Its being remembered by me in this moment of putting words on the page about curiosity is perhaps my inner counselor nudging me — yet again — to explore this trail of breadcrumbs that feels suspiciously like a rhythmic pounding in my own chest, one beat for every metaphorical breadcrumb, leading me deeper into what I hope will find me falling down a rabbit hole where I will land in my own Wonderment. Because Alice shows me how to explore, how to say YES, how to be “‘Curiouser and curiouser!’ . . . (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).” And then Alice’s laughter invoked the admonishment of the Queen to “[believe] as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Six impossible things (at least) I’ve believed since breakfast today:
1. I am seen.
2. My voice matters.
3. Credentials are a matter of perspective.
4. I am a writer.
5. I can make all my dreams come true.
6. I possess all the inner resources I need to accomplish all that I imagine.
As an undergraduate student I was required to take a 100-level English course: Freshmen English, essentially. I randomly selected one of many classes offered to fulfill the requirement, knowing nothing about the class or its professor, other than it was a box to check and the class I selected was not being taught by a grad student. I had no idea the impact that class and that professor would have on my life.
Debra Monroe — in her purple tights, sometimes green, black (most often) witch’s broomstick skirts, and curly strands of hair that insisted on liberating themselves from any attempt she might have made at securing them in place — was the breath of life I inhaled the moment I walked through her classroom door. She represented, embodied, and modeled for me everything every cell in my body longed to believe it, too, could BE: smart, well-read, articulate, funny, a listener, a looker between the lines of life, a teacher, a friend, a woman in ownership of her creativity, engaging, a mentor, a writer, liberated.
I relished every single lecture, devoured every piece of feedback (and my god! her feedback on my writing was voluminous!), took copious notes I still possess today (30 years later they remain a prized possession), signed up and showed up for every single office hour opportunity available to me, took additional classes she offered not because I had much (a little) interest in her subjects, but because I had a vested interest in her BEing-ness, her “muchness,” as Alice’s Mad Hatter shows me is even a possibility because perhaps before Debra, I didn’t know because no one had ever shown me, there lies a latent muchness inside of me.
Today my curiosity in the form of my beating heart reminds me to remember that once upon a time thirty years ago, a marvelous and magical woman named Debra delighted at my seeing Heathcliff on the Commons (she even wrote about that in one of her published papers), encouraged me to keep putting words on the page because my words were good, introduced me to follow my curiosity in my reading of D.H. Lawrence’s “The Rocking Chair,” inspired me to declare English as my undergraduate major, entrusted her dog to my care outside of school hours, responded to my finding her on Facebook, and today follows me on my social media platforms, telling me still I am seen.
“You’re not the same as you were before,” he said. You were much more. . . muchier. . . you’ve lost your muchness.” is perhaps just a reminder from the Mad Hatter who masquerades as Curiosity, itself, a suggestion that perhaps it’s time to breathe in again the deep inhalations of what it is to be in integrity and alive in my own words.