I have always assumed I’m a curious person. I like the idea of curiosity. It’s beautifully innocent, idealistic, and open. It’s strength comes from seeing any challenge as an opportunity. Curiosity lives inside those people who ask the most amazing questions when you meet them. Questions that I fear would be too intimate to ask. “Are you in a relationship?” “What’s your biggest fear?” “What do you dream about?” My friend, R, has a spirit of curiosity. She will ask those questions. She loves to dig deep. She loves people.
I don’t think I’m a curious person. That doesn’t mean I don’t have moments of curiosity, but I want to be far more curious than I allow myself to be. I assume a lot. I assume that that person in the cafe, whose gaze travels over to me, is judging me for my lack of makeup on. I assume that when my friend is looking over my pictures, she’s thinking, “Wow, look at those wrinkles around her eyes.” I assume that if someone I am living with is in a bad mood, I am responsible for their miserableness. Yes, I am "making an ass out of you and me." Ugh.
One of the first things I learned in Ukrainian is the phrase, “I know.” I heard that phrase over and over at my grandmother’s house. I remember asking my mother what it meant. It’s still the one thing I can identify in a conversation between two Ukrainians. My mom still says, “I know” to virtually everything. If I say, “I’m having a tough day.” Her response, “I know.” If I say, " I think it will rain today.” Her response, “I know.” If I say, "My friend, B, is going to break up with her boyfriend.” Her response, “Ya, I know.” Once I started noticing it, it made me so angry. I would respond with a tart, “You know? How do you know? I haven’t even told you yet!” It drives me crazy, but now I realize that I’m guilty of doing the same thing to my friends. It comes from a place of wanting to show that you are in agreement, and that you care. However, it assumes that I know what they are feeling and thinking. It shuts down the conversation.
So maybe I don’t know. Maybe it’s okay to not know. “I know” shuts down the conversation, but more importantly it shuts down curiosity. If “I know” then how can I really find out what is going on for someone and what it feels like for them? If I already “know” then why even ask the question? “I know” kills curiosity and it attempts to create certainty. “I know” is afraid, especially of NOT knowing.
So I can admit that I don’t know, now what? I don't know. Maybe I just need to take in the life around me. As I write this, I look out the white, Victorian, window pane. I see a brick wall and I wonder, "what is on the other side of that brick wall?" I heard that it was a Muslim school, but I've never heard the voices of children. I look up to the ever-changing sky, and see a soft blue sky, surrounded by soft white and grey clouds. I hear the television on and it's some UK reality show about B&B owners judging other B&B owners. What makes someone want to be a B&B owner? I can feel my aching shoulders and the slight dry, tangy mouth. I'm tired of this cold, but I am feeling better than I have in a long while. I'm trying to think of something big and poignant to write, but nothing comes to me. I just don't know. I don't know how this will relate to anything or anyone. I don't know.