Sometimes we lose our way.
Three years ago today, I published my curiosity manifesto. At the time, I had recently gone through a humbling experience that forced me to take a good, hard look at the approach I was taking in life. As I took a step back to think about the kind of person I really wanted to be, ideas started pouring in and I decided to write them down. Three weeks later, I had finished my first book–a sort of pop-psychology self-help book I called simply THE CURIOSITY MANIFESTO.
As the months passed, I realized that this piece of writing meant more to me than I had originally thought it would. I had thought that I had a great and powerful message for the world to hear, and I just had to get it out. I quickly realized, though, that my curiosity manifesto was more of a message for me than it was for anyone else. In writing the book, I had ironed out the kind of person I wanted to be. I had discovered my core value, the focal point around which I wished to build my way of being in the world. That foundation, that ever-present anchor in the storm of shifting values–for me–was curiosity.
Over the next few years, I began deliberately seeking out ways to become more curious. I started listening to people with an open-mind, assuming I had more to learn than I had to teach. I started learning about and trying new things. I started challenging my long-held personal beliefs about the way the world works. For the first time in my life, really, I felt proud of the person I was becoming. I can’t speak for everyone else but, for me, curiosity had become the means of finding a fulfilling life.
And then came the 2016 election. Like so many others, I got sucked in to the rage and hysteria. As a candidate, I had found Donald Trump’s demeanor so repulsive that–over time–I lost my center. I became adamantly outspoken against Trump, and I stopped being curious. In the months since Trump was elected President of the United States, I’ve had some time to step back and rethink my outrage. And here’s my conclusion:
I was wrong.
It’s not that I believe that I was wrong about Donald Trump. Ideology aside, his basic approach goes against everything I believe in. But I believe wholeheartedly that I was wrong about the way I approached him and his supporters. Too often, I found myself closing my mind and opening my mouth. I stopped listening. And I began selectively seeking out information that confirmed my beliefs.
So, I would like to take this moment to apologize to anyone supportive of or sympathetic to Donald Trump that I may have offended in my many angry tirades over the last year. You all deserve a better listener. But, more to the point, I want to apologize to myself. I’ve deviated from the path and gotten lost in the wilderness. It’s time I come back home, because I deserve a better me. I can’t promise that I’ll turn things around and all of a sudden drop this political angst that has been building up in me over the last year, but I can promise that I will try.
Now, I also want to take a moment to recognize the nuanced nature of such a confession. I have many liberal friends who are still at war with Trump and his supporters, and I think some of them may view such a gesture as nothing more than faint-hearted appeasement. To some, I may be coming to terms with the error of my ways but, to others, I am giving up the good fight. While the mantra “Resist!” continues to ring out loudly from hoards of protestors throughout the nation, I am quietly offering a new mantra for engaging with political foes in Trump’s America: “Reflect.”
Surely, there is a line at which injustices became so egregious that level-headedness becomes a euphemism for acquiescence. As someone who is privileged in many ways that others aren’t, I do not want to sit idly by in silence as marginalized groups are deprived of their basic rights. I don’t want to try to reason with a monster, and I do want to continue to stand up for those who have no one to advocate for them. I want to be curious. I want to be sensible, prudent, and sober-minded. But I also recognize that such a posture is a luxury that some simply cannot afford.
So I offer no condemnation to those who feel they must continue to fight. I don’t know any more than anyone else about how this is all going to play out. I may be greatly indebted to the “resistors” as time goes by, or I may look back and think they took things too far. But, regardless, I want to be clear: this confession is not about what I think others should or should not do. This is about me. I have not been true to myself, and it’s time I make that right.
This shift does not mean that I’m going to all of a sudden agree with Trump supporters or recognize every point offered by “the other side” as equally valid. But it does mean that I’m going to stop seeing things as “my side” and “the other side.” I’ve stopped following heavily liberal media and have started following moderately conservative media. I’ve reconnected on Facebook with many of those who I shut out during the election. And I’m sincerely trying to understand the reasons behind people’s beliefs before I condemn them or ridicule them.
So, that’s it. Just needed to get this off my chest. I need to find my center again.
If I’ve struck a nerve, though, and you are kind of feeling the same way, I invite you to come live the curious life with me. In a nut shell, it’s just about approaching life with more of an open mind. I still believe in the power of curiosity; I just need to go back to putting that belief into practice. If you want, feel free to join me.
Never stop searching.
Never stop learning.
Never stop growing.