Thursday, September 17, 2015

Curiosity

And now for something completely different... (sort of).

A thought struck me today while watching Doctor Who, as tends to happen when watching that show. It was "The Snowmen" episode when Clara is introduced (re-introduced, I suppose, but not as a Dalek but a Victorian barmaid/governess). When asked by Madame Vastra to describe in one word why she followed the Doctor, Clara replied, "Curiosity." And I don't know why but at that moment I had a grand epiphany.

Just recently, in one of the many job interviews I had, I described myself as having a lot of curiosity. It's true. Being an only child, I had find ways to entertain myself and developing a broad sense of curiosity was necessary. It's led me to pursue writing, dramaturgy, and personal hobbies, as well as collecting a lot of information that will never be useful but sure is fun to know.

My epiphany, of sorts, was this: curiosity, while a great driving force in my personality and artistic work, also has a dark side. For as much as it leads me to discover and do great things, it also leads me to ill.

I'm fascinated by people. I always want to know more about them, to know what they think and how they see the world. It's largely why writing is so compelling to me - I love nothing more than creating and interacting with characters. However, there's a line at which too much curiosity turns into worry - and anxiety. I began to yearn for knowledge I don't have - but worry about what would happen if I did know it. I want to go out and explore more of the world - but I fear what it will reveal to me. I begin to fill in the gaps of what I don't know - about people (especially people I care about deeply), about places, about the world - with stories and hypothesis and ideas. Sometimes they're proven right. Sometimes they're proven wrong. Sometimes they begin to blur and I can't quite tell where the fact and the fiction begins. And it's a little bit scary. And so the anxiety begins to roll in. 

This isn't Anxiety with a big A like I've talked about previously (though there's a link, I'm sure) but human anxiety, things we all fear. We're alarmed about the fact that we can never completely know a person, even those we love. We're all worried about learning something about a person that shatters our view of them. We're scared that our world view will fall apart when we see something we don't like or didn't expect. We don't like it when our own interest and passion in things leads us to something we don't like to know or that challenges what we do know.

The thing is, this happens. And it will happen again. And again. Our perceptions of the world will be tested, broken, reformed, and blended. And while it can be scary, it can also be grand and brilliant and beautiful. I've been going through some of my old writing, trying to see if anything can be salvaged from it to be rewritten or made into something new, and seeing how much my view of the world has changed in just a few years is incredible. I always strove to be a deep, understanding, insightful person in high school, but I think this sort of backfired and made me melancholy and a bit pretentious. But when I stopped focusing on becoming this way and reached out to people and let them reach out to me, sought out new experiences and let impulsive actions sweep me away from time to time, I became a lot more understanding and knowledgeable than when I was trying so hard to be.

The tricky thing is learning to accept all the beautiful and difficult and ugly and mind-blowing things curiosity reveals to us. There are things I wish I didn't know about people and things I wish to know that I will never learn, just as I have revealed to much of myself to others and not enough to some. Or have revealed the wrong parts and hidden away the right. Simply put, being human is hard, and because we aren't as lucky as all of those telepathic Doctor Who races who can express exactly what they're thinking and feeling through thoughts, communicating is often difficult.

http://learningrebels.com/
Thankfully, we have art and science. I completely believe that art helps us say what we could not otherwise and science helps us discover and understand concepts that we would otherwise wonder about for eternity. Both of these areas are spurred by curiosity and, in curiosity, there is hope. I grew up hearing the idea that "curiosity killed the cat," as a warning about being misled by our own passion and interest. Which is fair - curiosity can be dangerous. But it can also be the one thing that keeps us going and keeps us trying new things. Too often we forget the whole saying: "Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought him back." Because even when curiosity can lead us into danger, it can give us new insight, new knowledge, new understanding. While it can also scare us and worry us, it can also heal and inspire us.

And so, I'm a creature of curiosity, meaning I'll go wherever the winds take me and create a thousand endings and beginnings. I'll always be looking for something knew to learn - about the world, about myself, and about everyone in it. I may not always like what I learn, but I'll take it all in, knowing there's always something new around the corner. And, to put it all in one word: Geronimo.

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