FOSTERING CURIOSITY

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There are so many qualities I hope to foster and encourage in Margot. Gentleness, kindness, peacefulness, joy... you get the idea. But one thing that I think is incredibly important and often lost in an age of divisiveness and things like social media bickering is curiosity. To me, curiosity is a humble desire to say, "I don't know everything, and I actually WANT to understand, enter in, and explore the mysterious and that which is personally uncomfortable." From people to places, I desire that she would be the kind of soul that would rather look wide-eyed at the world and learn than assume she has nothing to gain from that posture. So here's what I'm practicing right now to encourage and foster her curious heart -- and perhaps they're things we should do for one-another as well.

CREATE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT

An environment that feels threatening or unsafe means she'll be primarily worried about protecting herself. And while self-preservation and curiosity may not be mutually-exclusive, they equally don't go hand-in-hand. That is to say - if she's worried about protecting her most basic sense of safety, she won't have the mental or emotional freedom to look beyond herself. To be clear, this is not a "safe zone" in the current socio-political sense that I'm fostering her to be incapable of having tough conversations lest her feels get hurt, this is the opposite of that. This is helping her to know that differences are actually a natural part of the human experience and it's how we choose to engage with it all that makes the difference. How does one achieve this? It's the little things. Like holding her close and squeezing her (communicating physical safety and security), and not over-reacting when she misbehaves, and even modeling it for her in how I interact with those around me (emotional safety and security).

ENCOURAGE QUESTIONING

I am a firm believer in at least two layers of questioning. In other words - what's the question behind the question? Going a layer deeper than whatever lies on the surface or just below it. I've found that's where wisdom and understanding begin -- when those deeper questions are asked and answered. And the best thing I can do for Margot is help her navigate and explore her questions as she begins to form them. Yes, she's only two - but it starts now. Example: when someone's a jerk -- it's not enough to say, "What's their problem?!" Perhaps a more powerful question would be, "What has led them to a place where they are operating from a place of hurt?" and then we could even get crazy and ask, "What could I do to be an agent of healing in their life?" 

DISPLAY HUMILITY

Ego and curiosity cannot coexist. Or at least that's my opinion on the matter. Humility is a sense of honest self-reflection, and then responding in like form to the people and circumstances that happen in each moment of life. It's releasing personal agenda. It's a jrejection of pride. And it's only when I release personal agenda that I'm able to engage with curiosity, and teach Margot to do the same.

You might notice that this particular music uses the personal pronoun "I" quite frequently. That's because if fostering curiosity in Margot will ever be a real thing -- it will first happen because she sees it in me. And my hope is that she'll see it in you too. (Assuming you know her? Okay whatever. I'll stop.) Cheers, dear ones.

HIPSTER DADS AND THE "COOL" MYTH

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So here's something that will probably be a shocker: I get labeled as a "hipster". I know... it's mind-blowing, right?! And what I find so interesting is the intersection of things that are typically associated with this subset of society and what it means to be a good dad. Hipsters are often seen (incorrectly so, mind you) as vapid, aloof, and image-conscious... whereas fatherhood is transcendent, focused, and selfless. And even on my own Instagram account the photos seemingly dance a line between these worlds. But here's the reality that I know, and with which I'll encourage any other new parent out there: none of us are actually cool, and there is nothing cooler than being whatever your tiny human needs, and that also applies to every other person we meet.

There once was a time where if you took a look at my most played songs in iTunes, you'd see a litany of great bands. Now don't get me wrong, I still love great music and listen to it regularly. But the top album that is played on the reg' these days is Disney's Moana Soundtrack. And even worse: if I'm being honest, I'll conceded that the song "How Far I'll Go" is hot fire, and it may have drawn tears out of my eyes a few times. Need a deeper confession? Okay fine... any time this track comes on while Margot is riding in that back seat, I immediately jump to a falsetto karaoke voice, incorporating dance moves and dramatic facial expressions, and the people next to me at the stoplight are left gawking and asking, "What in the world is that dude in the wide-brimmed fedora doing dancing in his car to Disney ballads?!" Well I have an answer for them: I'm doing literally whatever it takes to make Margot crack a smile. Because her joy gives me joy.

Here's the part where I share the nugget of truth inside that parenting snapshot:

The reward of humility and surrender is joy. 

See, the moments when I'm willing to set aside "my agenda" (i.e. not listening to that hot new Childish Gambino track and instead spinning Moana yet again,) are the moments when I see my daughter light up. And I'd say this applies to almost every interaction and circumstance we experience in our lives. Here's why: when we surrender our will and our "rights" for the sake of someone else, we're telling that person that they matter. And we all want to know that we matter! And when we surrender our will for the sake of someone else, we are also reminding ourselves that the "thing" we're giving up has no power over us, and that people are more important than the things we otherwise allow to define us. Perhaps you're saying, "But Micah, I get it when you're talking about your daughter... but what about other grown adults? I'm not gonna surrender my will for my difficult neighbor or coworker, because they're selfish and have their own agenda and I refuse to be used or walked all over!" To that, here is my reply: I feel ya. It can be tough when you wonder (or sometimes outright KNOW) that someone might be trying to take advantage of you. But I'm not going to allow someone else's selfishness to hijack my generosity. If I choose to be generous and set aside my will, I will do it with wisdom and discretion, but I will also do it with abundant consistency. 

I know, I know... we just went down the rabbit hole. But that's what happens when you pair an existential hipster with a hot fire Disney ballad! I'll shut up now. Today we all have a choice - we can choose ourselves and our agenda. Or we can choose one-another. I propose we employ the lesson that Margot keeps re-teaching me, and we choose one-another. Because the reward of humility and surrender is joy.