Yesterday, I watched that new Mark Rober video that everyone has been passing around the internet, in which he completely overengineers an anti-squirrel bird feeder, creating a ninja-warrior course and making friends with his team of squirrel subjects in the process. He learned things. The squirrels learned things. Everybody evolved.
I’m a fan of Mark Rober. I think he models open-hearted curiosity. He began the process in frustration: The squirrels, no matter what little modifications he made to his bird feeder, always won. He played the next step in the process as an attempt to outwit the squirrels, but by that point, his curiosity had already taken over. He was no longer really concerned about beating the squirrels. He realized that he had an opportunity on his hands here to explore something. Already his vision and his attention and his perspective had evolved.
(You have to watch the video. Note: No animals were harmed in the making of this video. Further note: You just may come away with a deeper appreciation of the animal life in your neighborhood.)
Watching the video brought into sharper focus for me something I believe, but haven’t explored very thoroughly in words, that open-hearted curiosity is at the heart of learning, and is a primary step in evolutionary processes. Lately, I’ve been hyper-focused on the way disruptions and challenges sprk evolution and transformation and change. We get pushed out of our easy status quo and we must adapt or flounder. So we adapt, sometimes kicking and screaming and lashing out at our neighbors who are having BBQs or our neighbors who urge everyone to be cautious and wear a mask.
How can I approach the frustrations and inconveniences, and even deep anxieties, of this experience with a more open-hearted and curious frame of mind? People aren’t squirrels, of course, but are there ways that we can engage each other more playfully that might bring about learning and evolution for all of us? I think we’re in a place–nationally and globally–where we have to evolve, and evolve quickly. If we can begin to approach the challenges with a greater sense of curiosity, hearts open to whatever possibilities the future holds, perhaps we can find our way through.
1. Sometimes my gratitude list becomes a little like a bird-watcher’s log, but here is a Big Joy from yesterday: On our walk yesterday morning, Jon and I saw a flock of cedar waxwings. Later, we saw them again, in the walnut tree by the barn. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen them in the hollow, but it’s been a long time. They’re so dapper and elegant, both in their coloring and their way of flying. It made me wish we had more early-fruiting berries.
2. Taking stock, and finding my way through a couple thorny things. I need to listen carefully to my own advice about curiosity and approach a couple of my current personal challenges less like a slog, and more like an interesting challenge. Can she do it? Can she make her way through the obstacle course of Issue X without falling? When she falls, can she get up again? It’s just good to have a plan.
4. Adapting, changing, evolving, transforming
5. The little joys that people share. It keeps everyone’s hearts softer and more open.
May we walk in Beauty!
“Let this be a voice for the mountains
Let this be a voice for the river
Let this be a voice for the forest
Let this be a voice for the flowers
Let this be a voice for the ocean
Let this be a voice for the desert
Let this be a voice for the children
Let this be a voice for the dreamers
Let this be a voice of no regret” —John Denver
“Just as we are taught that our universe is constantly expanding out into space at enormous speeds, so too our imagination must expand as we search for the knowledge that will in its turn expand into wisdom, and from wisdom into truth.” —Madeline L’Engle