I had my first and only scuba diving experience in Mexico when I was in my late 30’s. It was a resort dive–a short, not very deep, guided experience to see whether I would like to take diving lessons. It didn’t go too well. While I was intrigued by what I might discover under the sea, my anxiety about being submerged took over and I didn’t get to see anything. About halfway down, I panicked and splashed my way up to the surface, my guide following, screaming at me in Spanish.
Afterward, I was ashamed and disappointed. My fear had conquered my curiosity, not to mention putting me at risk of getting the bends. I felt like a failure.
I’ve gotten over it all these years later, but I’ve noticed lately that my curiosity energy needs a boost. So, as we enter Pisces season, I’ve set an intention to activate my curiosity and de-activate my fear.
Pisces, the sign of the fish, reminds us to flow. It is a deeply intuitive archetype with a mystical, dreamy quality. Co-creating with the Universe by moving with this flow is the best way to manifest the life we want. Fear fights the flow. It blocks our ability to see the synchronicities and signs the Universe is constantly flashing to show us the way. Curiosity, on the other hand, opens the floodgates of intuition.
As I contemplated the sign of the fish, the expression, “curiosity killed the cat,” kept swimming through my mind. So, one of my first actions toward my curiosity intention was to find out where this expression came from. Turns out the original phrase was found in 1598 in a play called Every Man in His Humour and was later referenced by Shakespeare in Much Ado About Nothing. But the actual phrase was care killed the cat, as in worry or sorrow. So, it’s fear we’ve been warned against all these years, not inquisitiveness!
Fear has obstructed lots of things I’m curious about, but they are mostly things that involve bodily risk, like sky diving or taking hallucinogens. That’s okay with me. Where I really desire to broaden my perspective is in relationship to other people. One thing I have to guard against here is my egoic mind that likes to make assumptions. This especially resonates as I return from visiting my family of origin and reflect on the old stories we hold each other in. Why does it seem so difficult to be curious about the people we are closest to? I wonder what fears are at play here. I believe we owe each other the courtesy of curiosity, no matter how long we’ve known one another. This is one way we honor growth.
Assumptions are also at play in my experiences with people I don’t know. The mind likes to categorize and judge, even in the absence of facts, or perhaps especially in the absence of facts. Yet, this should be the most fertile place for curiosity. What would our world be like if we sought to know more about other people rather than typecasting them?
I had an opportunity to practice last Sunday while sitting in a family restaurant in small town Texas after church time. A “typical” looking local group sat at the table next to my mother and me—three women and a man, white, probably somewhere in their late 60’s. When my mom went to the restroom, I started eavesdropping, expecting to hear what I thought was conventional small-town Texas talk, things like sports scores and church gossip. But, as I listened in, I found out this group was chatting about seeing UFOs! They certainly defied my preconceived notions, and the Universe is so funny sometimes.
“Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will,” said the Irish poet, James Stephens. Curiosity as the antidote to fear. This rings true for me, especially as it regards my inner world and the work I do. Through movement, we discover what the body wants to tell us about ourselves. In meditations, readings and healings, we explore the soul, which is vaster than any ocean.
It’s tempting to be nervous as we move inward because we don’t know what we’ll find there. But when practiced with openness and wonder, these inner explorations yield great treasure. Like the brightly colored fish I would have seen in the Gulf of Mexico had I flowed with my curiosity rather than my fear.