Monday, March 23, 2020

#SOL20 - Try to Stay Curious: Notes from the Pandemic

Forgetfulness (M.A. Reilly)


Towards the end of Rob's life a friend sent me a private tweet that simply said, Try to stay curious. It was important advice. At times of such adversity and sorrow, staying curious also kept me noticing and being in the present moment.

I have been remembering that tweet, the advice, and how it remains a constant in my life as I navigate these new ways of being in the world. I want to wish you the gift of staying curious too as you deal with the day-to-day uncertainty that we rarely feel so acutely as we do now.

Try to remain curious.


Remaining curious is a slippery venture. I say that I want to remain curious and I look outward to do so. For example, last week, a principal in Newark sent a text with a link to nearly 500 online courses . Such possibilities.  I want to return to painting.  I noticed quite a few emails from artists I have taken courses with before who are offering free courses during this mostly, if not always, at home time.

Sometime curiosity is lodged externally.

Today, I read another email from a different principal who explained,

We have introduced themes. This week we had "Wacky Hat Wednesday '' where teachers taught with their wacky hats and were either live for students to see or took pictures. Friday was my favorite “Disney Character Day.”

I wondered about those images and the laughter they surely generated, and how in doing so community and strength and kindness were also shared. 

Sometimes curiosity leads to bigger ideas and understandings.


Reservoir (M.A. Reilly)

To stay curious I sometimes turn to the outside:
  • I walk outside. I live somewhere new after nearly 18 years and the outside world has changed. It is built up where I live now. Planned. I have left places like the reservoir above. Finding my way now is different. Difference opens me to being curious.
  • I listen to others. I learn something new daily from my daughter. She is a fount of knowledge. There are generational differences. Yesterday she was in my car as I was on a phone call.  Many of us on the call have difficulty muting and unmuting. She  shook her head at our fumbling and told me she would share some more modern ways of communicating. It made me laugh. 

  • I phone my nearly 90-year-old mother-in-law weekly to catch up. Her world is one of repetition and there is solace in that I notice.
  • I talk to my brothers, friends, and colleagues. This is always an emerging conversation. Up until restaurants, etc. were all closed, I had a weekly dinner with three friends on Thursdays. We chat now by phone although I think this week we will do so by Zoom. What is happening in their lives leaves me curious as well.
  • I photograph. I have photographed for so long that my hand knows the shape of the camera and my body knows when the image I made will be one I will savor.
  • I participate in twitter chats. I learn with Twitter from those I follow. This past week found me exchanging private tweets with people from the US and Ireland. Such depth there.  And the irony was when I finally remembered to get my mail there was a card from Ireland with this closing message: 
"Thus accept this card, sent to all of us, to celebrate everything wonderful about having the support and love of good people in a good world during good times and not-so-good-times."  

My coffee table, currently.

To stay curious, I turn inward:
  • I read, listen, view poetry. No other type of text fills me with as much wonder as poetry does.
  • I keep notebooks: handwritten and electronic journals, art journals, blank notebooks just waiting.  It may be the blank ones that keep me curious. Although rereading notebooks often leads to more writing, art making.
  • I keep piles of books nearby and read between and among the texts. It's like a new kind of authoring.
  • I follow links that lead to links and more links. I learn this way.
  • I stay open to possibility.
  • I cook. Okay this may not be as robust as everything else. But I have hope that I will return to this soon.
  • I make/unmake collage.
  • I alter images.
  • I play.

What are you doing to stay curious?


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