Culturally most of us are discouraged from being curious. We have been reprimanded by our teachers for asking too many questions, told to stay within our boundaries of thought and means . We have been told time and again that “Curiosity killed the cat” a term that is now part of our subconscious, warning us of the dangers of being too curious.
“Nosy Parker” – a commonly term we have all used at some point to brand that one pesky neighbour or friend or relative who wants to know everything about everything. Those whose curiosity is insatiable and feel the need to dig deeper and ask more and more annoying questions.
The conditioning of our minds to “not be too curious” goes back to the times of Adam and Eve. In the myth of creation, God created these first humans in the Forest of Eden and they had the bounties of the earth given to them to enjoy. They were created as beings who were innocent and unaware and unembarrassed by their nakedness. God had for them just one restriction – to not eat the fruit of the apple tree- the tree of consciousness and knowledge. All was well until dear Eve could not control her curiosity. Why was the apple forbidden? What was that knowledge that God wanted to keep them away from? Why must the apple not to be eaten, after all it looked plump and juicy!
Curiosity coupled with temptation, temptation arising from curiosity, made the forbidden fruit irresistible. Eventually, with a little prodding and deception by a serpent, Eve ate the apple. Carried away and excited by its wonderful taste she also convinced Adam to take a bite. Thus they committed their first sin and were banished by an enraged God, away from the Garden of Eden.
A story we have heard in several forms and let the morals seep deep into our psyches. Always stay within the rules and fight your natural instincts to ask why. Don’t ask why not? Don’t ask what else? Don’t let the lure of what lies beyond get you! Because if you do the consequences will be dire!
As per the myth, having eaten the apple, Adam and Eve did face dire consequences but it was also the birth of human consciousness and knowledge. The genesis of the human mind and thought. The apple gave Adam and Eve the consciousness of mind. It gave them knowledge and awareness of their surroundings and their own abilities. A knowledge that would have completely eluded them (and all of mankind – if the myth is to be believed) if they had played by the rules.
We humans as a species are curious. We have always wanted to know more, to push the boundaries and ask those unwarranted questions! That is what defines us! What happens when we rub two stones together (Bravo! We got Fire!!) Why does the apple fall from the tree? And How? (Eureka! We figured out gravity!) and we have not stopped since! We are constantly inventing and discovering and creating new things. To keep asking how, when, why not, what else, how else and what if is really what we were born to do!
The Renaissance movement that began in the 14th century was marked by remarkable progress in art, science and pretty much all walks of life, which was brought about by common people asking not so common questions and taking the not trodden paths of thinking differently, exploring new ideas and thoughts. Leonardo Da Vinci was one of the greatest thinkers and artists of this time. His curiosity to learn, examine and question led him to mastery in more than one discipline. Be it art or science, warfare or architecture, he always wanted to know more. He asked if birds can fly why can’t I? He asked if a building has to stand up straight and not collapse in a heap of rubble what must be its proportions? If Mona Lisa stood by the window in the morning light would her face shine as much or lesser than if she stood in broad sun light? Just everyday questions…but in pursuit of these answers unexpected results were gained. Micheal Gelb, studied the works and mind of Da Vinci and has given us 7 principles to be an everyday genius, like Da Vinci. The first of this 7 is Curiositica – a insatiable thirst and quest for knowledge and continuous learning.
Your curiosity and the consequent ability to act on it, will define if you are a learner or not. Are you someone who constantly wants to know more, be a better version of yourself, find solutions to problems, understand why someone acts the way they do, explore scenarios and outcomes, find new ways of doing old things? If you are, you are on the right path. You are on the path that will set you up for a daily dose of vigour and adventure. You are likely to be able to not get bogged down by challenging situations, because your mind has been sharpened to think in several dimensions and you are more likely than not to find creative solutions. But most of all, you may have found the recipe to fight boredom since your curious mind will always keep you excited and striving for more.
Now if you are not all of the above, you may slowing be purring and slinking into the back isles of the fast paced theatre of life and while you lie there, tail between your paws you will realise that it actually was not curiosity that killed the cat, it was ignorance. Curiosity was framed!