Curiosity means endless questioning, like when I was a child, asking about everything, ad infinitum. Who? What? Where? When? How? And perhaps most importantly, Why? It means refusing to take “no” answers as the final word. It prefers questions over answers.
A curious mind (the mind is the human aspect directly tied to this essential trait of wholeness and joy) means embracing new things, new ideas, new people, new feelings, new lands, new books, new foods, and, yes, new questions. They say, “curiosity killed the cat,” but did you know “satisfaction brought it back?”
Curious people have rediscovered the lost art of listening. They are an endless source of fascination to others. They have a keen sense of empathy. Therefore, they are charismatic. People like to be around a curious person. Curious people attract others rather than push them away.
The more curious a person is—the less religious, cynical, and selfish. And obviously, the less ignorant, close-minded, and judgmental. Consider these lovely comments from curious people.
“Curiosity, especially intellectual inquisitiveness, is what separates the truly alive from those who are merely going through the motions.” —Tom Robbins.
“Curiosity is lying in wait for every secret.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson.
“Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect.” —Samuel Johnson.
“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.” —Leo Burnett.
“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” —E. E. Cummings.
“You’re never going to learn something as profoundly as when it’s purely out of curiosity.” —Unknown.
Hmmm. Unknown? Or so insisted the website where I found this quote. But who said it? That made me curious. And guess what? I discovered that Christopher Nolan—one of my favorite movie directors, said it. Eureka!
My curiosity about the quote’s origin led me to writingcooperative.com, which sparked my interest in how Nolan writes. He posits a take on the age-old writing advice: write what you know; instead, he advises you to write what you want to know and to see where curiosity can take you when exploring a new character or world. So don’t try to think outside the box; instead, think inside a new box.
Consider his movie Memento—one of my all-time favorite movies. I discovered an excellent synopsis by Sarah Schafer. Memento follows a man with anterograde amnesia trying to find his wife’s murderer. Due to his condition, his memory “resets” every ten minutes. Therefore, the film is told backward, simulating the protagonist’s confusion. But the film doesn’t rely on its “gimmick.” Instead, it sucks the audience in with characters with strong motives and a harrowing mystery—which is often the center of Nolan’s films.
Finally, curiosity is like a magical power. But like so much else, it has been spanked, churched, censored, and educated right out of our being.