Friday, January 31, 2014

Be Curious!

Gertrude Bell

We human beings are curious creatures.  

We have questions.  

Sometimes, in fact more times than not, these questions we have stay confined in our minds.  We don't vocalize them.  When we do this, we allow those questions to ferment in our minds or we simply end up forgetting them. 

Why?  

Why do we, such intelligent, inquisitive, knowledge-seeking individuals (yes, we are!!), keep ourselves from expanding our own knowledge?

My theory is that we simply don't think about it.  We don't bring our consciousness to the idea of actually vocalizing a question. We think questions all day long, or have thoughts about why things are, or wonder things, but those same questions/thoughts/wonders stay there in our minds.  We, as a society, have become robotic in our actions.  We do the same things the same way over and over again, and the more we repeat these same patterns, the more that pattern that gets ingrained in our mind and way of thinking and the harder it becomes to shake.

But it can be shook. 

I was at the train stop the other day and this girl had a laminated picture of a woman in her bike spokes.  I was wondering to myself, who is that? I really did want to know!  Anyway, I kept wondering this and finally, right before her train approached, at the very last minute before she boarded, I asked her.  She answered, Gertrude Bell.  I then followed up with, well who is Gertrude Bell?, to which she responded, look her up.  And so I did.

This story is interesting and relevant for two reasons.  First, by asking a question and exercising my curious mind, I gained knowledge.  I found out who Gertrude Bell was.  Yesterday, I hadn't even heard of the woman; today, she is someone of whom I've heard and know a little about.  She was, according to Wikipedia:

"an English writer, traveller, political officer, administrator, archaeologist and spy who explored, mapped, and became highly influential to British imperial policy-making due to her skill and contacts, built up through extensive travels in Greater Syria, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, and Arabia. Along with T. E. Lawrence, Bell helped establish the Hashemite dynasties in what is today Jordan as well as in Iraq.She played a major role in establishing and helping administer the modern state of Iraq, utilising her unique perspective from her travels and relations with tribal leaders throughout the Middle East. During her lifetime she was highly esteemed and trusted by British officials and given an immense amount of power for a woman at the time. She has been described as "one of the few representatives of His Majesty's Government remembered by the Arabs with anything resembling affection".[1] 

The second reason this story is interesting and relevant is because the girl in possession OF the picture didn't know even know who Gertrude Bell was--yet she had it in HER bike spokes.  This exemplifies perfectly what I am talking about: we don't ask questions (or not nearly enough of them, anyway).  Not asking, not wondering, not being curious limits our knowledge-expanding potential.  

I, for example, now know who Gertrude Bell is (but that girl likely still doesn't). 

One's curiosity is not only enriched by asking questions (my friend, Wade, used the word "constitutional" as a noun the other day, which I did not know the answer to so I asked him, mid-conversation), but by finding answers to questions posed. 

Conversations we have with others takes on, for no particular reason, a somewhat formulaic quality. Someone asks you a question to which you do not know the answer and you say, "I dunno," then you move on. Few of us say, "I don't know the answer but I'm going to find out so that both of us know and then get back to you." 

This just sounds weird.  

And the reason it sounds weird is because it defies the formulaic script we are used to speaking.  We say the same things the same way over and over again.  We ask the same questions (or don't) and respond with the same answers (or don't).  

Try challenging yourself though!  Awaken that mind and expand that brain!  

Think of a question to ask someone?  Ask it.  

Wonder why something is the way it is?  Look it up.  

I invite you to dedicate the next few days to asking as many questions as possible.  Definitely confront strangers too.  This does not mean you have to be obnoxious or rattle off questions in much the same way an auctioneer rattles off bids, but do challenge yourself to ask more and find as much new information as possible over the next few days.  I'd love to hear your observations too.  What did you notice about yourself?  About others?  What in your life changed?

The people of this world have so much knowledge, wisdom and information to offer.  We need only stop a moment to ask them...or answer what is asked of us.

With love, light and happiness,