While hiking with a friend on South Mountain on Sunday, we noticed a cave-like formation on the bank of a wash. We’d seen a few other small caves, but something was different about this one. At first glance it resembled a rib cage. Curiosity got the best of me, so I stepped closer for a better view. When I realized what it was, it took my breath away. Within the dark, small space, a most beautifully constructed honeycomb was situated. I thought of stalactites and stalagmites as I peered at both its symmetry and asymmetry. I wondered how long it had taken the bees to create this complex, practical work of art.
At first it seemed abandoned, and we wondered about the large rocks that were placed or thrown near the opening. As we looked closer, we did notice a few bees in the vicinity. We decided it was best to leave the bees to their wax colony. Once we headed on down the trail, we both commented that our childhood experiences trained us to pay attention to unusual sights in nature. What enabled that to happen was a finely developed sense of curiosity.
Over the years I’ve appreciated all of the totally random, unique parts of life I know about because I’ve been a teacher. Working with children has forced me to utilize my curiosity and turn it into creativity. It’s also helped me make connections and help my students do the same. The writer, Elizabeth Gilbert, has this to say about curiosity: “Curiosity is an impulse that just taps you on the shoulder very lightly and invites you to turn your head a quarter of an inch and look a little closer at something that has intrigued you…Sometimes following your curiosity will lead you to your passion. Sometimes it won’t, and then guess what? That’s still totally fine. You’ve lived a life following your curiosity. You’ve created a life that is a very interesting thing, different from anybody else’s. And your life itself then becomes the work of art, not so much contingent upon what you produced, but about a certain spirit of being that I think is a lot more interesting and also a lot more sustainable.”
As teachers at the Seed, we make it a priority to model curiosity for our students. We want the children in our care to grow up interested in the world, especially the natural world, and to have the confidence to ask questions. Furthermore, we want them to know their questions matter, then give them the tools to follow their curiosity to discover the answers for themselves.