Curiosity. Of all the human traits I think this is one that is thoroughly underrated. I'm not talking about being nosey - I think nosiness is driven by a nasty motivation, whereas curiosity involves being inquisitive, exploring, investigating and learning.
I know that curiosity killed the cat - but have you heard of the come back line to that proverb?
Satisfaction brought it back. ( I am not sure if the cat is still dead at this stage, or not.)
Now, my fruitcake mother is a very cool lady. My brother, sister and I lucked in. All my friends throughout my life rate her as do my brother's and sister's friends. One friend of mine went and stayed with my parents when he started his first job as a lawyer, he was going to stay for a week and left three months later (and later repaid the favour by shouting me a return flight London to Chicago! Result! All I did was lend out my parents). And today all of our friends will go and visit our parents when we aren't there. All her nieces and nephews think she is a rock star, as do her grandchildren.
My mother often shows me up as the slack friend that I actually am, recently one of my oldest friends had a terrible time and ended up spending about four weeks in hospital. We live in different islands, so she got regular phone calls from me - but got regular letters from my mother.
Letters? Remember what they were?
Anyway, I was thinking what it is that makes her so cool. She is: kind, thoughtful, naughty, funny, she doesn't judge, she is wise, she can be delightfully insane, she is self deprecating, she knows so much about the world, she doesn't impose her views and opinions on others and will respect an opposite argument even though she doesn't agree with it, but when I really think about what makes our mother so unique is that she is incredibly curious.
She is so curious about the world and the ways people live. She is interested in the people she meets and fascinated as to why they are the way they are. It's not a judge thing, it's an understanding thing. 'So why do you think like that? What is your story? Oh, you look interesting, tell me your back story.' This is the woman who would rather get a bus than a taxi so she can look at all the people. Honestly, park the woman up at an international airport in the arrivals lounge and she would be so excited about what she was seeing, she would forget to eat.
That's why I wasn't surprised when she told me that she was attending a series of university lectures for the 'third age'.
'What, university for old bastards?'
'Yes darling, and there are some that are about hundred and three. They're the ones who sit up the front and ask all the questions.'
Bloody mature students, no matter what age they are, they always sit up that front and make the slackers down the back look bad.
I asked her what exactly were these lectures she was attending.
'Ohh' she said, her voice full of anticipation and delight, 'I've never understood the Middle Eastern situation and its history so I'm going to a series of lectures about it from various different perspectives: religious, political,geo social....' And then she started saying words I didn't understand and I stopped listening.
'So once you've done these will you be able to tell me if there will ever be peace in the Middle East?'
'From the way it's going I think we will be holding hands across an electric fence hoping no one will turn the current on. That's not an entirely accurate analogy but it means I don't know what will happen and I don't think they do, either. What I do know is that it's going to be fascinating - if I can remember what any of the lecturers say. That's going to be the interesting thing.'
I do like the way her brain works.