Last night, I was riding the subway and listening to music, something that’s become a daily routine of mine while living in Busan. Traveling to and from my many different teaching jobs, I easily spend a few hours on the subway each week.
A familiar song started playing, and my immediate reaction was to skip it. But as I pushed the “skip” button on my screen, a thought appeared. Why do I always skip this song? It had come on dozens of times before, but every single time it had started playing in the past, I had skipped it then, too. This intrigued me. Is it because I don’t like it? Or is it just because that’s what I’m used to doing? As I wondered about this for a moment, though, I realized something even more interesting. I was pretty sure that I’d never, even once, listened to the entire song before.
My curiosity compelled me to return to it. I figured there must be a reason I’d written it off all this time, and I wanted to find out what it was.
I closed my eyes and settled into the warm collar of my puffy winter jacket. I had a long ride ahead of me, and now was the perfect time to rest my tired eyes.
The song, “Everything Has Changed,” began to play again, and this time, I was all ears. Blocking out the occasional screech of the subway as it ran along its tracks, and pretending there weren’t hundreds of other people sitting and standing all around me, I gave the music my full attention.
After a few bars of what turned out to be beautiful music, Taylor Swift’s unmistakable voice started singing, low and sweet. Moments later, Ed Sheeran chimed in, and the two began a beautiful duet. Eyes closed, I let the rhythm flow through me. By the time the chorus rolled around, I was tapping my foot to the beat, mesmerized by the lyrics.
What had I been thinking? All those months, I’d skipped the song without a second thought. Now, I couldn’t get enough of it. I put the song on repeat, liking it more and more each time I listened. I soon loved everything about it – the music, the lyrics, the rhythm, the way the voices of these two people came together to create something beautiful.
I guess I hadn’t actually been thinking at all. I had just been doing. I’d been clicking that “fast-forward” button with absolutely no thought involved.
I had obviously misjudged it all those times before, but I now recognized my mistake. Unlike so many songs these days, this song had meaning. It was about something real. And yet, I hadn’t even given it a chance. The only one missing out here was me (Taylor Swift probably wouldn’t care whether I ever listened to the song or not).
Realizing this made me wonder how many other things I’ve been “skipping” over lately. If I could simply overlook a great song, there was no question that I could also be overlooking much more meaningful things on a daily basis – things like people, relationships, and passions.
So, how do we avoid doing exactly what I did – judging something unfairly, and, in the process, passing up the opportunity to discover something wonderful?
We do our best to be open to new experiences as we go about our lives. The tendency to stick with what we know will always be there. So will the tendency to judge – whether it’s people, places, things, or situations we’re judging.
But when we notice these tendencies, and take the time to question them, we can learn something from them.
My lesson from this situation? Sometimes, curiosity pays off. When we act on our questions, we may be rewarded with rare, beautiful moments.
Curiosity didn’t kill the cat – it saved him from a life of boredom and missed opportunities.