Zen teacher Charlotte Joko Beck said, “Joy is exactly what’s happening, minus our opinion of it.”


Are you experiencing life as it is, or are you experiencing your thoughts about life? Our thoughts have power and can seem like the truth. Often they are based on past experiences cultivated by a need to protect or defend. What if, instead, we allowed our past experiences to inform us but not run us? It is possible with curiosity.

Rev. Elizabeth Rowley is an independent columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email her at revelizabeth@cccsl.org.

Curiosity allows us to be present, in the moment, observing what is. Being curious enables us to engage with our experience without resistance, without being preoccupied with our thoughts and stories (our commentary) about what’s happening.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles

In a leadership course I once took, I learned that we tend to take what happened in our lives and collapse that with our story about what happened. It is in that collapse where our suffering occurs. When we pull the two apart, we have what happened and our story about what happened. Now we are empowered to choose whether we want to release our story about what happened or keep it. In keeping it, we will continue to feed and perpetuate it with our precious mental energy, allowing it to grow and become our way of moving through the world. But, on the other hand, releasing our story about what happened liberates us. Left with what happened and no story about it, it is much easier for us to face, feel, process, and heal without the story.

Sooner or later, you’re going to realize that a singular belief has dictated your entire experience on the planet for a long time and decide to release it. So you might as well make it happen sooner than later.

Dr. Ernest Holmes was widely known as “the eternal question mark.” He was curious about everything. Curiosity is about embracing the now and observing what is. With focused attention, our curiosity enables us to rediscover a natural inquisitiveness, just like when we were children.

Back to what Zen teacher Charlotte Joko Beck said, “Joy is exactly what’s happening, minus our opinion of it.” We were each birthed into existence on the planet at this time for a purpose. The more we can release our stories and be present in the now, the quicker we become who we came here to be. The world needs us to be all we came here to be. So be curiously engaged; get in the game of what’s happening right now in your immediate surroundings. Your time as a spectator is over.

Observe, ask, wonder, repeat. As you consciously engage in the practice of being curious, you will feel the sweet liberation of living life in the now where anything is possible. Spontaneous joy will erupt and bubble up from your toes. The best gift is that you get to choose. Once you have chosen to be curious, it’s all about the practice until your practice becomes permanent.
And so it is.