Curiosity

Life must be lived and curiosity kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.
Eleanor Roosevelt

In my last post, I talked about doing, being and becoming. How does one continue to become – to grow, to evolve? I have been thinking about this question, and I think being curious is a big part of it. Curiosity can lead us into avenues we never thought to pursue before. It can open new worlds and possibilities and bring excitement into our lives. Recently, along with several million other people, I was curious about the lifestyle and birthing practices of giraffes, specifically a giraffe named April, living in an animal park in upstate New York. I watched her live giraffe-cam on YouTube religiously, and saw the birth first hand. Now, I am not about to take up a new career as an animal caretaker, but I did learn how big these guys really are – over two stories tall! And it was awesome to see the little guy, just a few minutes old. Within an hour he was standing on his own four legs, and already as tall as the caretakers.

A deeper experience was standing on the top of a mound at Jericho in Israel, looking down into a pit at a Neolithic stone tower 28 ft high. We were told it is the oldest known stone structure in the world, built around 8,000 BCE. That experience opened up for me a whole new avenue of exploration that has kept me curious for years – the study of ancient near-eastern history, which has enriched my life immensely.

Wikipedia defines curiosity as the desire to acquire knowledge and skill: it drives the process of learning. It is the urge to draw us out of our comfort zone, while fear is the agent that keeps us within its boundaries.

So how do we become more curious? I would say the first rule, the foundation, is to pay attention. Really see what is about you. Take time to look, to listen to what others are saying, look at the details, the shapes, the colors, smell the roses. So often, we blithely go our way and never see what is right in our own back yards. Curiosity is about seeing new things, and novel experiences, even in everyday life.

The website Lifehack.org suggests starting with the five basic questions of news reporters: Who, What, When, Where and How. Stopping to ask those question about something you have observed or read about can open up a whole new world and a rich life experience.

The important thing is not to stop questioning; curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when contemplating the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of the mystery every day . . . Never lose a holy curiosity.
Albert Einstein

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