If you would watch when a horse is interacting with a new person, animal, place or thing, you would be able to see them displaying an acute awareness and an intense curiosity. They would use all of their senses to explore and make sense of the previously unknown. They may put their lips up to smell more deeply or continually swivel their ears to hear all of the sounds coming in. They may turn their heads in many different ways to see better or get their noses right into something and take a big, satisfying whiff. They may even step on it or push their muzzles into it to see how it feels; but if something piques their interest, they certainly wouldn’t feign disinterest.
Now, if you would watch a person interacting with a new person, place or thing, you may not be able to outwardly observe any changes to that person’s demeanor at all. When we see someone that’s completely different – say they have a disability or are from a different culture, or are of a different socio economic class, do we pretend we’re not interested? Or do we peek looks when we think the other person or group may not notice? Or do we read a book or watch a reality show about that culture because that’s a safer way to explore our interests?
It seems that we, as humans, actively try to contain our curiosity so as not to appear overly interested, rude, impolite or socially inept. We are told from a young age not to stare or to ask questions or to touch other people’s things. But a horse doesn’t do that. If they are interested, they go explore. When and how did it become the human norm to pretend that we aren’t curious and then actively disengage from our senses?
It makes me wonder what would happen if we all allowed ourselves to be a little more curious about our world and used all of our senses to explore the unknown. Would our lives be richer? Would it allow us to slow down and appreciate the immense beauty that exists around us? Would it make us more joyful and free?
Perhaps for the day, you can join me in an experiment of curiosity. Look up and see what sparks your interest. Ask a question of a stranger, smell the fruit before you buy it, follow a unique noise and see what’s making the sound, taste a new food – anything that wakens up your sense of curiosity. And then, like the horses, you are either more curious and want to explore further or you’re not and you go on your merry way. Either way, try to notice if you have a bit more engagement with the world and have added some mindfulness to your day. If you like what you feel, all you have to do is be more curious.