I chose "Pandora" as my high school Latin name. I was attracted to it at first because of it sounded cool, but as I read her myth, I became disheartened to learn that she was blamed for letting all the evil into the world because of her curiosity. I remember thinking this sounded a lot like Eve and the apple. Okay, world, consider your lesson learned. If women are curious, ask questions, wonder, or investigate we will cause harm to humanity. Got it!
As easily as it is to see through these patriarchal paradigms, these archetypes can be sticky and are most definitely woven into our cultures. They may have even left footprints on our patterns of thinking--even on us Feminists.
So, when we internalize this mandate to contain our curiosity to prevent evil from happening, we women risk stifling our creativity and intelligence. Maybe we stay deep inside the margins of safety. For instance, I never thought I could be a filmmaker. So, I never considered it, but if I was 18 right now, I would most definitely apply to film school.
This self-stifling may happen in small ways, too. We may prevent ourselves from trying something new for fear of negative consequences. I’ve been wanting to take a tap dance class for months, but am holding myself back. Who knows if following this curiosity could lead to inspiration, a new hobby, or a friendship? It may lead to nothing except an elevated heart rate, but I won’t know for sure unless I take the damn class!
Sometimes I get overwhelming urges to try a new medium or technique, and I have to put everything aside to dive into it. Recently, I saw these amazing rugs made from recycled materials in intense colors. They were made using a basket weaving technique that I was familiar with. So I tore fabric into strips. I carefully chose yarns, found my fattest needles, and got to work winding and binding these textiles into a tight spiral. It grew very, very slowly--- at a snail's pace. I soon realized that it didn't look close to as beautiful as the one that inspired me. Taking a step back I realized that if I continued, the time devoted to making this rug would classify me as insane, and that maybe I settle for a set of coasters or a trivot. Ha! I don’t regret getting on this new creative train. I had to get it out of my system to make way for the next curiosity, which may lead to something new and interesting!
Often the worst that can happen by following a creative curiosity is that you acquire some new gear or materials that costs money and storage space. You can hold on to these or pass them along. Sometimes an abandoned curiosity will resurface at a later opportunity, or it may lead to another curiosity. I do believe that everything that you do feeds into itself and eventually you might not know where it is leading.
I have an artists friend, Faith, who was mostly interested in painting and drawing portraits. She was also making instructional videos about her drawings, but she always knitted for fun. Eventually she incorporated her knitting, a creative curiosity, into her drawings and made videos about the whole process to make these amazing portraits. Had Faith never gotten curios about knitting and remained curious about how to make portraits, she wouldn’t have discovered this new technique of portraiture.
Also, these curiosities could be for pure joy’s sake, too, and joy only beckons more creativity. It encourages us to take more risks - to be playful. In fact it seems the exact opposite of evil comes from opening the curiosity box, we only become empowered by it. Imagine that indulging your curiosity brings you joy, creativity, and experience while also fighting the patriarchy. So, it looks like it is time for all of us to adopt the name Pandora, and get to work embodying creative curiosity!!
Anna Lentz, artist and writer, blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.