Of all the attributes that I want to see increased in my life, curiosity currently tops my list. For me, I want to see this in all shapes and forms. I have always been curious about things – there were few toys from my childhood that survived my exploratory surgeries. My parents’ basement became a wasteland for mechanical gadgets and electronic do-dads, sacrificed so that I could see what made them work.
The furthest reaches of the universe and the ocean depths were often on my mind too. Space fascinated me – there was so much that we didn’t know, so many things that people weren’t sure about. Our knowledge was more about things we had faith in based on the evidence we could collect. The closely-related exploration of the deepest trenches in the ocean revealed creatures that were more martian-like than terrestrial. Often, I would pull out the World Book Encyclopedia in our school library and turn to “Ocean” – just so I could see drawings of these creatures.
In fact, I remember being nearly overcome with awe when I first saw one of these creatures preserved in a college biology lab. It was amazing stuff.
This hasn’t changed. The aptly-named Curiosity rover – the one sending back all of the amazing pictures from Mars – has had my attention for weeks now. I consume everything I can find on this and even watch the press conferences, streamed live on Ustream.tv.
It turns out that this curiosity has been pursuing a couple of other targets as well. Namely, I’m finding myself becoming more and more curious about myself and about others.
It has been extremely helpful and remarkably insightful to begin honing the ability to introspect – to be aware of what’s happening in my head, and to feel what’s happening in my body. I’ve got plenty of room to grow but the blogging and writing definitely help my focus in on that process.
Curiosity towards others is where I often struggle, at least in practice. I’m truly interested in what’s happening with people, truly concerned about their struggles, and almost always thankful for their good fortunes. However, introversion, anxiety, self-centeredness, or any of a host of other deterrents often get the better of me.
People have great depth and immense capacity. If you believe in some level of a creation story, in some semblance of a soul, then you probably believe that underlying our humanity is some sort of divinity, unfathomable in its expansiveness. Removing any divine direction, our mental capacity, our accomplishments, our seemingly-limitless bounds demonstrates the richness of what it means to be human.
In giving advice to future counselors, therapists, and helping professionals, one person recently said to always “stay curious”. He spoke of the temptation to stall in the pursuit of understanding our friends, spouses, significant others. But, to be human is to be ever-changing and evolving, adapting to new situations, being tweaked and formed by even daily experiences. My wish is to be constantly aware of this miracle of the human condition and to never assume that I know another.
A perfect example of this is my wife. In our marriage, we have come to a wonderful place where we are now two distinct individuals who have chosen to experience life together – our individuality remains, of course. Practically, though, we spend a lot of time apart: far more than we have in the past. Every day her experiences, her studies, her hobbies, he conversations change some subtle aspect of who she is. How easy it is for me to assume that after 15 years of being together in some form or another that I have learned everything of significance that there is to know about her.
If I’m truly fascinated by her though, learning about her never stops since she never stops changing. The same is true for all of my friends, my family, and anyone that I come into contact with.
It’s that sort of curiosity that I’m looking for now. That’s what I’m pursuing. Yes, it’s an ideal; I may never reach perfection here. Still, if I can eliminate the barriers, consider this your fair warning!