I'm blessed to know a woman in her early 90's who is one of the most curious people I've ever met. Every time I see her, I can hardly finish my greeting without her interrupting me with the most genuine and warm questions, "How are you doing?" "How is your work, and how are your children?" Her eyes stay with me, and her head nods as she follows along with my responses.
This seems to be how she engages everyone who has the good fortune of knowing her. She's always interested in learning more about the details of people's outer lives and inner lives. Not only does this curiosity offer a gift to those she encounters, but I also sense, from the vitality of her presence and the sparkle in her eye, that it greatly enriches her days as well. In knowing the circumstances of her life, and some of the losses she's endured, I realize that she'd have good reason to have shut down her heart a long time ago—I'm sure many hearts have been closed over much smaller things. But she hasn't made this choice . . . and the effect is contagious.
It's hard to leave an encounter with her and not feel inspired to be a bit more generous with my attention—wanting to offer it to other people as well as to the objects, and ideas, and things of natures that surround me. I've been moved in noticing the degree to which curiosity can inspire us to stay in an active conversation with the world around us. It's a quality worth awakening and re-awakening again and again, throughout the decades of our lives.