Paying attention, Nurturing curiosity

Paying attention, Nurturing curiosity

How do we find new ideas to work on as artists?  Getting stuck can be paralyzing. I have been working on paying attention to the world around me. Watching the behavior of birds, animals, and plants and noticing the subtle changes of light as I walk at dawn or muse looking out the window at the movement of trees in the wind.

Being curious is a state of mind we all had as children but gets superseded by entering the world of ‘have to’s’.  Even young children need to be taught awareness.

Elwin Richardson, a teacher in rural New Zealand in the 1940’s, wrote in his book In The Early World speaking on working with his primary age students. “I drew their attention more and more to things such as passing weather, the changing of the habits of birds and animals, and our interaction with our environment.  It was necessary to induce attitudes of awareness in the children so that they became observers as well as appreciators of the world around them.”

In an interview by Krista Tippett, Elizabeth Gilbert talks about being curious.  She finds this idea more accessible than the adage of ‘follow your passion’, less intimidating.

So how do we get back that sense of wonder and curiosity?  We start paying attention to the little things around us.  Notice the flight patterns that distinguish the almost identical black swallowtail from the spicebush butterfly.  Marvel at the antics of birds at a feeder. Watch the young birds learn the ropes and learn to feed themselves. Notice the color changes of leaves on a single tree each day in the fall.

This is all food for the soul and creativity.  Developing the art of paying attention will enrich all our lives.

As E B White said in Charlotte’s Web, “It is quite possible that an animal has spoken to me and that I didn’t catch the remark because I wasn’t paying attention.”

He also said, “Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.”