These days, I have more questions than answers.
When I write my teammates that I have left behind, my messages are full of questions. I’m so curious to know how they are doing, how the school is running, and how the students are. I have no way of knowing without them.
My friends smile. I can read in between the lines of text that they are obliging my curiosity by answering my questions. They are happy to give me the news I’m asking for. But sometimes, I notice a hesitation. I know they are not telling me everything, as if they want to spare me. I understand, but continue to ply them with questions.
When I talk to new people I meet here, they are full of questions: Where did you move from? How do you like it here so far? What do you do? Do you have children?
I smile and hesitate, too. How much does the other person really want to know? Do I give them a full answer, one that involves going back nine years to when we first moved overseas? Or do I tell them where I came from most recently? Will they understand that I don’t know what I’m doing, yet? That my world is completely turned on its head and I’m still trying to figure out which way is up?
Instead, I talk about the children. They’re cute! Let’s stick to them.
Curiosity is the desire to know more, and we are all born with it. As I consider it in my transition journey, I want to harness it as a tool. I want to make my curiosity work in my favor.
Today, as I drove home from dropping my daughters off at school, I forced my phone’s navigation system to re-route. I made a wrong turn on purpose, just to see where it would take me. I was curious, and wound up learning a new way home on country roads—slower, but more beautiful.
Will I allow myself to be distracted by my curiosity, to let it take me down roads with people and places that I might not otherwise have explored? At church, when I see the person that is clearly from Africa, do I take the time to ask where they are from and share my story of living in Africa? At the store, when I see a woman wearing a headscarf, do I stop and greet her in Arabic and ask where she’s from? In my neighborhood, do I go over to a group of parents and introduce myself, asking about their children and how long they’ve lived here?
There are no guarantees that I’ll settle in sooner or get to know people better any faster simply because of curiosity. But what will happen if I keep all my questions to myself?
My world will stay small. I will miss out on that winding journey through a new season with unexpected twists and turns.
I may have to live my old life vicariously through the people that are still there, feeding on the little crumbs they give me, but I can choose to live out my curiosity in the here and now with zeal. I choose to take huge bites out of every opportunity I have in front of me, learning more, and obliging the curiosity within.
How have you harnessed your curiosity as a tool before? In what ways has it been helpful to you in times of transition? When has it taken you to unexpected places?