Curiosity Killed the Cat

“Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought him back.” I have wrongly assumed that was the original proverb. Here’s the thing, the original phrase was actually, “care killed the cat.” That meaning had to do with meddling in others’ business. “Care killed the cat” became “curiosity killed the cat,” and it gathered a more general meaning beyond meddling.

I went snooping for my Christmas presents. Most kids do this, I am sure, but I had never successfully found any presents until around the age of eight or nine, and never again after that, not that I remember ever looking after that. Scattered throughout the storage room in my first house on 4565 Rollridge Avenue were amazing Christmas gifts. I was way too much of a tomboy to ever ask for Barbie dolls and accessories specifically, but I really liked playing with them. With each Barbie I found; I began planning my Christmas break. On Christmas morning, I opened my presents, and I did not open a single gift I had found in the basement. It turns out, my parents had provided gifts for one of my friends whose family could not afford to give her presents for Christmas that year.

“Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought him back,” makes me feel better (especially when I am talking about my own cat. But it just doesn’t seem to fit my personal Christmas situation, and here is why: 1. Curiosity didn’t kill me. 2. I wasn’t automatically satisfied because I was curious. 3. Expectations suck.

Curiosity + expectations ≠ satisfaction. It doesn’t work that way. Curiosity, by very definition, is about the process rather than the outcome. Curiosity is about learning, not knowing. And curiosity is about choice, not control. What will I do with what I now know, NOT how can I force myself into a mold.

My intention for 2023 is to be curious. Curiosity is married to compassion and courage, so of course, I will be continuing to stay open to the 8 Cs of IFS therapy. I know this will be an “embrace the suck,” get to the next telephone pole, pause and breathe, laugh and cry kind of year, but I have no expectations except to keep my eyes open and stay curious. Please, by all means, call me out on that regularly.

“Self-awareness is often uncomfortable. It’s hard exploring the parts of me I’m used to avoiding. Bringing curious attention to identities, beliefs, patterns & habits I’ve been denying or ignoring takes courage. I have to move towards the discomfort. It’s by honestly facing myself that I get to know myself as I am.” – Jenn Pee Rich, PhD

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