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Be kind. Encourage compassion. Inspire creativity. Nurture courage. Grow your mind.

A Tale of Two Curious Souls

May 22, 2024
hippo and hyena touching noses

A few years ago, my family, including my parents, embarked on an unforgettable journey to Zambia. While I have had the privilege of traveling several times to the continent, this was the first trip for my kids, and I was eager to experience this fascinating world through their eyes. After about a week on safari, having admired lions, leopards, elephants, and giraffes, we continued our routine of rising before sunrise. Each morning began with a quick snack before we ventured out of camp to observe the animals in the first light of day.

On one such morning, as the gentle glow of dawn illuminated the South Luangwa River, we were treated to a scene that was almost cinematic in its beauty. The river, essential to the region’s diverse fauna, was dotted with adult hippos. Mostly submerged, their massive forms and watchful eyes acted as guardians of the waterways. Against this backdrop of protective vigilance, a moment of unexpected tenderness unfolded.

A juvenile hyena, embodying innate curiosity, cautiously approached the riverbank. Not far from it, a young hippo ventured slightly away from the safety of its kin. What happened next was a poignant display of curiosity overcoming instinct. The hyena, laying down, signaled peace. The young hippo, driven by a similar curiosity, moved closer, and within moments, they touched noses, sharing a moment of innocent exploration.

This interaction served as a vivid reminder of the beauty of youth—of being open and curious. Whether in humans, hippos, or hyenas, this curiosity manifests as a willingness to explore, to learn, and to connect in ways that transcend instinct and expectation. Witnessing this play out in nature, with my family by my side, underscored the importance of nurturing these qualities in our young ones.

Youthful curiosity is a powerful force. It fosters an open-mindedness that can lead to unexpected friendships and discoveries. As parents, we strive to encourage this in our children, teaching them to look beyond appearances and to approach the world with a heart ready to learn and a spirit eager to embrace.

Just as the young hippo and hyena paused their natural roles as adversaries to explore a potential friendship, we too can teach our children to view the world as a place of endless possibilities. By fostering their innate curiosity and teaching them to approach the unfamiliar with an open mind, we prepare them for a lifetime of understanding and appreciation for the diversity around them.

Our morning by the Luangwa River was more than just a safari experience; it was a life lesson delivered by nature itself. It reinforced the invaluable lessons we try to instill in our children: to be curious, to be kind, and to always remain open to the wonders of the world. In nurturing these traits, we help them not just to grow, but to thrive in a world as vast and varied as the plains of Zambia.

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