Be Curious

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“Be curious, not judgmental.” ~ Ted Lasso quoting Walt Whitman

“The four characteristics of humanism are curiosity, a free mind, belief in good taste, and belief in the human race.” ~ E. M. Forster

The other day, Barry and I had lunch with a dear college friend of ours. We met her new husband and we got to talking about noticing how some people claim to be loving but are so judgmental. I mentioned that I have begun to examine my own attitudes and actions toward other people more closely as I have read and listened to spiritual teachers. I was dismayed to find that I’m often judgmental. I guess we all are. We’re not even aware of the disparity in our beliefs and attitudes unless we choose to pay attention.

As we talked, I remembered one episode of Ted Lasso that I watched with Barry. It’s episode 8, “The Diamond Dogs.” Okay, I admit it, I wasn’t a big fan of the show at first. In general, I’m not a big sports fan, and the show is about a college football coach from the U.S. who is hired to coach a professional British (soccer) Futbol team. Not my idea of an interesting show. I was being judgmental. I thought the show was one thing, when in reality it’s something completely different.

Barry loves the show so much that he has watched the first season three times. And while we were visiting family, the first episode of the second season aired. So, of course we had a Ted Lasso watch party complete with Ted’s shortbread biscuits (cookies). The ones that he bakes and shares with the boss every morning. Barry researched lots of recipes and baked them for the family. They were a hit.

The episode I mentioned above was one where Ted plays darts with Rebecca’s ex-husband for controlling interest in ownership of the team.  By this time, Ted has won over many of the players and even some of the press. He knows some of Rebecca’s story and hopes to help her retain control of the team. Rupert, the ex-husband, is arrogant. He’s sure he’s going to beat this hick from the American Midwest and gain back what he lost in the divorce settlement. He wants to stick it to his ex but has no idea how wrong he is about Ted. 

As the game is at a critical point, Ted tells the story about being underestimated his entire life and how that used to bother him. But one day as he was driving his son to school, he saw a quote by Walt Whitman painted on the side of a building. It read, “Be curious, not judgmental”. He liked that. As he contemplated this quote he realized that the people who underestimated him, were judgmental, not curious about who he really was. For example, in this case no one, but especially Rupert, thought to ask if he had lots of experience playing darts. I won’t spoil what happens next.

The point is that I have recently realized that I’m a curious person. I love hearing people tell their stories. Mostly that’s because of my parents. Being a part of theatre also helped. Everyone involved in a production must analyze the play so that the costumes, setting, music, and lighting help the audience get a clue about who the characters are. Play analysis is most important for the actors and director. What motivates the characters to make the choices they do in the play? What are the back stories of the relationships between characters? 

After picking apart plays and other stories for so many years, I am even more curious about people than I was when I was younger. I’m interested in what has influenced the people I talk with, what have they learned, and what are their hopes and dreams. 

That’s partly why I started Story~Power. I get to listen to people share why they love stories, the ones that mean the most to them, and how they have been affected by those stories. Along the way I get to know something about who my guests are as people.

In fact, about a month ago, I realized that I became an actress and a director, a teacher, blogger and podcaster because I’m curious about people. If I listen carefully, I can learn something important from every person I talk to.

But I can never lose sight of the fact that even though I’m curious, I can also be judgmental. When I am, I assume I know who “that” person is without finding out anything about them. And that’s not good. Every person has a vast wealth of experience that can potentially connect me to them.

So, I want to cultivate curiosity. It’s the only way I know how to understand just a little bit about experiences and places that would not normally be a part of my life.

To return to Ted Lasso. The tag line for the second season is: “Kindness is back!” I love that! Ted and his friend Coach Beard are the opposite of the macho, toxic males that we think of populating the sports world. In my opinion we can use a lot more kindness and positive male images in this world. Maybe curiosity encourages kindness and visa versa.

Thank you so much for reading. I hope you are having a wonderful summer/winter wherever you are in the world. Feel free to leave a comment or share these posts with your friends. Let’s spread kindness and curiosity to as many people as we can.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2021

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards.

Have you ever experienced life shattering events? Yeah, most of us have. In The Space Between Time, Jenna Holden gets slammed by her fiancé walking out, her mother’s untimely death, and losing her job all in one week. But she receives unexpected help when she finds her three-times great-grandmother’s journals and begins the adventure of a lifetime.

The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and for Kindle at Amazon, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news when the audiobook version is published.

Lucinda is also the host of Story-Power a new podcast where she and her guests discuss the stories in all formats that have changed their lives. It’s available here on Sage Woman Chronicles and on Apple, Google, and Spotify podcast apps. Please rate and leave a review. It helps people find me.

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Published by lucindasagemidgorden

I grew up in the West, the descendant of people traveling by wagon train to a new life. Some of their determination and wanderlust became a part of me. I imagine them sitting around the campfire telling stories, which is why I became first a theatre artist, then a teacher and now a writer. They are all ways of telling stories.

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