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Curiosity in action

By Tonya S. Swindell

“Curiosity killed the cat” is an old saying used to warn individuals about the dangers of being too curious. According to Wikipedia, the earliest printed reference to the phrase is attributed to a British playwright named Ben Johnson. To get a point across in his circa 1599 play “Much Ado About Nothing,” William Shakespeare also used similar wording. Although the proverb brings attention to a very important issue, it fails to highlight my contrasting view that curiosity has benefits.

Curiosity caused me to ask a friend if she would teach me how to say basic words and phrases in her native language, which is Arabic. I became inquisitive after my friend’s mother said, “Shukran,” or “Thank you,” in response to me saying, “Happy Mother’s Day!” I quickly learned how to say, “Afwan,” or “You’re welcome.” That simple yet thoughtful gesture has enhanced my relationships, given me new ways to interact with people, and increased my confidence in social situations.

Sometimes I feel afraid that people will laugh or think less of me if I ask what I think is a really good question. Fortunately, I have begun to feel that way less and less. Perhaps it is because I’m learning to value, embrace and respect my own sense of curiosity. 

Academy Award-winning producer, Brian Grazer and business journalist, Charles Fishman, discussed the topic from a refreshing perspective in, “A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life.” Grazer provided a peek into “curiosity conversations” during which he engaged and connected with people at a deeper level to obtain greater awareness, insight and understanding. Grazer mentioned how insightful dialogues broadened his view of life and culture and contributed to the creativity with which he wrote and produced successful films like: “Splash,” “Apollo 13” and “A Beautiful Mind.”

I feel that curiosity is a God-given wonder that lets us ask questions, seek answers and eventually find them. A little over 6 years ago, curiosity caused me to search online for guidelines necessary to submit an article to the Opinion Page of Suffolk News-Herald. It also caused me to follow through and submit my writing with hopes of having it published. Since then, my creative process has included a strong desire to learn more about topics like faith, history, art, current events and other cultures. Today, curiosity still motivates me to improve my skills as a writer, pursue becoming a published author and discover how words can transform the hearts, lives and attitudes of people.

My curiosity and creativity go hand in hand. During recent conversations I mentioned the refreshing feeling I get from engaging and creating. I made the statement: “Creativity lets me breathe!” Today I’ll add: “Curiosity lets me explore possibilities.”

TONYA SWINDELL is a wife, mother, mental health occupational therapist and motivational speaker. She can be reached at tonyathewriter1@gmail.com or on Facebook at Tonya Sinclair Swindell – Teacher With A Pen.