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  • by Janet St. John

Art & Soul Seeing #5

Inspired by Kim Manley Ort's Adventures in Seeing

2: Focus

Habit 5: Get Curious

Kim’s exercises got me asking a lot of questions in August, including a recurring one, What if? I found myself wondering, What if I look at this ____ really close up? What if I seek a new perspective about ______, like looking from the ground upward? What if I imagine a statue as a real person? What if I try to capture a hummingbird in flight?

My various attempts—a super close-up of a Moroccan rug, my menagerie of winged creatures hanging from a ceiling (seen from the below), frames of a hummingbird coming to land & eat on a feeder—were often clumsy and utterly un-orchestrated, but I was okay with that; at least I tried to see in a new way. At least I wondered.

And isn’t wonder the essence of curiosity? I’m thinking of the verb form of the word wonder, but the noun also suggests arrival at the outcome of curiosity, or curiosity as the impetus for wonder, curiosity as prime mover.

Kim’s “adventures” in this chapter, of course, encouraged questions and new ways of seeing, but also suggested I try to find meaning and learn something new. I loved the contrast of examining purpose and whether my days are spent meaningfully, butting up against the idea of play. This really sent me off into more questions about what IS meaningful? Isn’t play meaningful? The old notions arrived, that when we grow up, we don’t play anymore, or that if we’re playing, whatever we’re doing cannot be considered work, which is what we often consider a meaningful use of our time.

These thoughts made me wish I could take Dr. Who’s Tardis and go back in time to teach my child-self that there is no difference between work and play. That we can be paid to play. That play can be meaningful, that work can be fun. My rational mind can say, Of course, that’s true. But old habits and parental examples are hard to chuck. So, I will carry these challenging questions forward as I try to recognize and hone my days in meaningful ways, and seek to learn new things, and play.

Thanks for following my musings! I hope you return here in one month’s time for another Art & Soul Seeing!


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