Curiosity Enlivens the Cat

In my observation, most adults are incurious. Largely speaking, I’ve concluded that the vast majority of people simply put one foot in front of another, doing the things they’ve always done, thinking the things they’ve always thought. They live by a formula and seldom risk the danger that accompanies asking themselves questions such as, “Why am I doing this? What is the point? Does this make sense? Who am I, right now, today? What is it that I want?” It takes a great deal of personal courage to ask oneself such questions because the answers, often times, won’t fit neatly into our current lives.

Probably the quality that identifies a re-booter more than anything else is the courage to ask such dangerous questions. Re-booters are a curious group; not only because there are so few of us, but because we are not cowed by the threatening potential of the answers we may uncover. We may dislike the answers—they may be supremely inconvenient; we may decide not to act on them, but we know the answers exist. Because we’re willing to ask the questions.

How many people do you know who are inquisitive like this? By my bet, it’s not too many. I know an astounding number of educated and successful people, engaged in busy lives, but who have no curiosity about their place in the world or the people around them. Despite being experts in their particular field, able to research and absorb enormous amounts of data, these individuals have zero interest in examining why their lives are the way they are. These are not social misfits; these are our neighbors, our relatives, our coworkers and classmates. These are people who paddle their way along the social stream, but not once do they look up to see where they’re going or why. They just…go. It would never occur to them to wonder.

Because I am so much the opposite, I am repeatedly surprised by others’ apparent comfort with their status quo. People fascinate and confound me, simultaneously; I want to learn from their example and watch how they evolve—if they evolve at all. I’m a monkey who likes a good nut to crack. The folks I’m referring to in this post leave the nuts lying all over the ground—they don’t even see them! They eat their bananas with no thought to searching for alternative sources of nutrition. Does what I’m saying make any sense at all?

My theory is that these folks prefer not to think about such possibilities because, underneath it all, they fear they won’t be able to handle what might follow. Instead, they down shift their lives into cruise control and never question whether there might be more out there and available, if only they were curious enough to wonder. I have more faith in them than they do in themselves. Re-booters understand that people are stronger than they believe. We’ve handled uncertainty and survived disappointment—this knowledge gives us the ability to enter that fiery den of personal change. We’re curious to discover how far we can actually go in this new direction. Do you see how marvelous and life affirming this is? It’s wonderful!

But back to curiosity. When coaching ourselves along such probing lines, we need to remember to search for the next right answer, and the one after that. A keen observer doesn’t stop at the first obvious solution; a keen observer probes further, seeking additional explanations and insights so as to more fully grasp the thorny situation at hand. All too often, folks stop as soon as they find an answer that fits their parameters, but true insight comes only after additional, careful study. Think of all those Agatha Christie novels where there was more than one motivated suspect to do the killing. The same goes for following the thread of your own life. You are where you find yourself for more than the obvious first right answer. Keep going! You can handle it.

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One Response to “Curiosity Enlivens the Cat”

  1. Grasshopper Says:

    this is wonderful and so true…

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