⭐ curiosity is a curse
I work with a lot of people that I would describe as stereotypical Americans. They love their college football teams, play golf on the weekends, and think getting married and raising a family is the only way to live your life. Some less innocuous traits unite them too, like a common hubris that they live in the best country in the world despite not having really been anywhere else save for yearly cruises to Cancún. It took me a long time to notice this dormant chauvinism, because it can be hard to spot, but I started to pick it out from the ways they subtly belittle and make fun of other cultures. Even the ones that do travel more widely seem to only do it as a game to brag about, but never as a way to truly understand the cultures or people they visit.
I have a friend at work who has spent pretty much his entire life in a 300 square mile section of North Carolina. He’s never lived anywhere else or traveled outside the country, and doesn’t plan on ever leaving, nor has he tried sushi or anything even remotely foreign. I know being able to travel and study languages and try new foods is a privilege that not everyone has. But it’s his total indifference and lack of curiosity (that characterizes so many of these other stereotypical Americans I meet), not what he has or hasn’t done, that shocks me. I can’t wrap my head around how uninterested he is about the world beyond, and he can’t understand why I obsess over it so much. The only thing we might share in common is how difficult we find imagining being in the other’s shoes.
I used to pity him. I know he’s content in his little bubble and maybe some people are just born where they’re meant to be and never want to leave, but I can’t help but feel like he’s missing out on so much. I can’t imagine the kind of person I’d be if I hadn’t learned a new language, or traveled abroad. My happiest moments were almost all made outside this country, and they make me acutely aware of all the wonderful foods, places, and people scattered across the world that are just waiting to be discovered.
But sometimes I think I should envy him instead. My curiosity can be a curse, too. It’s hard for me to be happy somewhere, especially in places I know well like home. I always feel a background level of despair pushing me to explore, to learn, to experience more before my short life draws to a close. It’s a lost cause—hard as I might try, I know I won't ever experience even a small fraction of all the things I want to, but my knowing can’t cure this affliction. Every book I can’t read, every place I won’t see, and every person I won’t meet breaks my heart.