“Dad, why is it raining?”
Dylan and I stare out the window. It’s raining hard. The afternoon sky has turned almost purple. Lighting pops, thunder rolls, and a full trashcan tumbles weightlessly down the street. His first baseball game is in a few hours.
“Dad, why is it raining?”
“Because it is.”
“But why does it rain?”
“Because it’s really hot out and the earth needs to cool off.”
It’s raining harder then it was only a few seconds ago. As if an unseen hand turned an unseen knob to an unseen faucet somewhere between the sun and the moon. The house lights flicker. Someone in another room says, “Uh oh!”
“But dad, it also rains on cold days.”
“You’re right buddy. It does.”
“So dad, why does it rain?”
We have been quarantine since mid-March. Three and a half months or so. No school, no sports. For Dylan that’s 50% of his little life. The other 50% consists of french toast sticks and sleeping. He has taken the forced change in stride. But here, on the afternoon of his first baseball game, a return to some normalcy is just a crow’s hop away. Dangling in front of him like a cupcake on a string. But it’s raining on opening day of the in-house-machine-pitch-league season and the little sandlot they play on is now puddled with cats and dogs.
Curiosity is natural.
Kids are known for their wild curiosity. It what makes them interesting. Their relentless questioning is a product of them trying to make sense of the world.
If you hang out with a curious kid, they will pepper you with questions– a sort of miracle, you’re witnessing them grow up. But somewhere along the way (when they mosey into my 12th grade English class) questioning is thought to be a weakness. Silence is fake confidence. A raised hand is subjected to eye-rolling.
For fear of embarrassment we stop asking questions. We condition ourselves to become passive thinkers. “It is what it is,”– and we go about our lives, graduating high school growing into adults who complain about the weather.
Incuriousity is unnatural.
When we stop being curious, our mind begins to close. Instead of wanting to know more, we become complacent to know less.
Remaining curious, seeing the world through fresh, exciting eyes, like kids do, is how we stay young, graduate first grade, and grow up and remain cool.
But how do we, the adults in the room, cultivate a habit of curiosity?
We have to put our ego aside, admit we know very little about just about everything, and begin to actively pursue life like little kids– wanting to learn, courageous enough to question things we don’t understand.
And by doing this, you’ll also discover new things about yourself. You’ll finally start growing up.
“Dad, do you think my game will be canceled?”
“Probably, sorry bud. It stinks. We wait all these months to play baseball and then, on game day, it rains. It’s ironic.”
I look at my 7 year old son. His little chin on the window ledge, staring at the rain. I was mad. But I don’t think he was. He was too curious to be mad.
“Hey dad,” he looks up at me, smiling, missing teeth, a mouth like a Jack-o-latern, “what does ironic mean?”
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4. Hearing his children laugh
5. Hugging his wife
(Bonus points for a dinner with his parents and a beer with his friends)