“THE FIRST AND SIMPLEST EMOTION WHICH WE DISCOVER IN THE HUMAN MIND, IS CURIOSITY,“ said Edmund Burke, a philosopher back in the mid-1700s. And I couldn’t agree more. Curiosity, or what I like to call “Innocent serendipity,” is what makes the journey of life so stupendously exhilarating and meaningful. Without the rudimentary elements of curiosity, I believe that not only would life become extremely boring to those who lacked curiosity, but it will seize to make sense altogether. In like manner, it was that kind of “first and simplest emotion” of curiosity that Edmund Burke talked about, that, provoked me to want to pick the brains of 21-year-old Brittany Herbert. And what I discovered about myself and about Brittany Herbert, during our intercourse of literal delights and awe-inspiring contingencies, further cemented my beliefs in the power of curiosity.
21-year-old Brittany Herbert is a senior at the University At Buffalo—-double majoring in legal studies and African American studies. And she’s from a very small town in Saratoga New York—-only 3,000 people—which she did not like, by the way. “There weren’t a lot to do there,” she said, with one of her legs crossed over the other, “Except for hiking at the Adirondacks mountains…..”—Brittany pauses for a brief second to survey the handful of students walking by— then, she resumed while staring directly into my eyes; “When I came to Buffalo it was a huge culture shock. There was a lot of diversity; a lot of things to do….and I just fell in love with it.”
By the same token, and speaking of falling in love, the amount of celestial beauty that has been bestowed upon Brittany Herbert is enough to make any decent man of nobility and vigor instantly fall in love with her. Her long flowing hair was a rich shade of mahogany. It sometimes flowed in waves, from her right to her left shoulders; to adorn her glowing, porcelain-like skin. Her eyes, framed by long lashes, were two different colors; one bright, emerald-green and the other golden-brown, which, seemed to brighten the world. With her straight nose and full lips – she seemed the picture of perfection—sculptured from the hands of God himself. When she smiled, it seemed like the whole world sighed with contentment. When she laughed, it seemed like whole the world laughed with her. And had Brittany decided to weep right there in front of me, the whole world would have wanted to comfort her.
As our delightful conversation progressed, Brittany revealed to me that she liked spending most of her time working out, playing intramural soccer, going to various sporting events on campus, and getting involved in demonstrations. Insofar, she’s been to two Black Lives Matter protests, a Donald Trump rally, and another different kind of protest on campus. “Were you here last year?” she asked. No, I replied. “Well, last year this one white, artist girl had a white-only sign on campus and it made a lot of people really angry with her.” Then she shared with me about the time when she bravely went to a Donald Trump rally at the Buffalo, Niagara Convention Center. “It was really scary;” she said. “Those supporters of his were really passionate.” Given how problematic Trump is and also how passionate his supporters can be, I wasn’t surprised when Brittany said that she was scared. I myself did not go, but I heard from one of my good friends that braved the event, that there were lots of police outside the convention center making sure that protesters weren’t getting out of line and, that, some people got their cameras smashed.
What kind of music do you listen to? I asked. “Have you heard the album ‘To pimp a butterfly’ by Kendrick Lamar?’…..I like that album because it’s so symbolic and powerful,” she said. When I asked her; if you had three words to describe yourself what would those three words be? she replied, “Independent, Unique, and Passionate.” In view of that, she also said that she likes to speak her mind and that she did not care what people thought about her. How fascinating! Brittany Herbert, one who tends to be very reserved and private in class, was actually turning out to be a pretty interesting, complicated, and directional human being. It would be a crime to say that I wasn’t enjoying what I was discovering.
On the contrary, and although Brittany is speaking freely with me at the moment, she’s sort of guarded and being very strategic with her words. If you could see her now, you would see that she’s carrying the expressions of a chess player, whose opponent hasn’t made a move, but yet, wants to decipher what their first and next move is going to be. And some of the answers that she’s giving me are short and brief—-partly because she’s nervous, but more so, because she’s trying to protect herself from something. “People always say that to me;” she admitted, looking a little surprised after I mentioned it. “That….I don’t come off as someone approachable.” And why is that? I asked. “I think it’s because I’m always thinking….and I always look so serious because of it,” she replied.
Whatever made Brittany be so guarded and protective, was not my business. And plus, I got the sense that she did not want to entertain that type of curiosity—-so I left it alone. What was interesting and far more important, however, is that I was discovering—-thanks to that “first and simplest emotion of curiosity” that Edmund Burke mentioned, that Brittany was more than just her celestial beauty.
“I am really funny!” she said, with a smile on her face. “And I’m very passionate about eating healthy. It’s a big thing for me!” In addition to those things that Brittany was proud to reveal to me, she also emphasized that fact that she likes to “Think.” On her twitter and other social media sites, she tells me, are home to some of her deepest and most poetic thoughts. As an illustration, allow me to draw your attention to exhibit A and B; both from her twitter site. She writes; “May I always find the strength to continue to be a genuine person despite falling victim to the deception and bad intentions of others.” Here is another one; “Forgive yourself for the blindness that put you in the path of those who betrayed you. Sometimes a good heart doesn’t see the bad.”
Social theorist and feminist writer, Simone De Beauvoir once wrote, “I am too intelligent, too demanding, and too resourceful for anyone to be able to take charge of me entirely. No one knows me or loves me completely. I have only myself.” This may be a stretch of my imagination; but I think partly the reason why Brittany is so guarded and protective of her person, is because she knows—philosophically and literally–like Simone De Beauvoir, that no matter whom you may run into, no one will be able to know and love you completely like you would to yourself. Inasmuch as that may be true to intelligent people like Brittany and Simone De Beauvoir, it is one of the many dilemmas that people with beauty often faces when they try to express themselves to other people. The eyes of beholder, in what I’ve come to discover, only sees what’s on the surface—and not below.
For this reason, and in conclusion, that is why curiosity or “Innocent serendipity” are two of the most important qualities to have in the first place; because it cuts through the physical assumptions of people and gets right to the core of who or what people are. To the end that I was able to entertain my curiosity by intercoursing with Brittany, admittedly, however, I too had fallen victim to the limited visuals that are ever present in the eyes of the beholder. You see, before I approached her, I too thought that Brittany was just her celestial beauty, and, that she lacked agency, expression, and reveries. And boy was I wrong! Brittany Herbert is/was smart, strategic, and very poetic. I am happy that this experience has enabled me to discover how limiting the visuals of beauty can be. And that, moving forward, I need to approach—not just beautiful people—but every other person, with the first and most simplest emotion that can and, has been, discovered in the human mind; curiosity.
To find out more about Brittany Herbert, look for her on Facebook; Brittany Herbert
To see some of her poetic and thoughtful quotes, visit her Twitter; @___Brittxny
Click the following link to read about our last week’s Weekly Inspiring Person; Melinda Ortiz-Rodriguez, a young aspiring social worker.