Did Curiosity Really Kill the Cat?
We live in a united, democratic society. Sort of. Because united as we are, well, we aren’t. The other day I was thinking about all the ways we polarize ourselves. Not typical socioeconomic stuff like education, taxable income, zip code, etc. I was thinking about the more human divide.
For example: Drivers either name their cars or not. My gas-sipping little red Ford is named Foxy. Previous cars were dubbed Smitty and Goldy.
Here’s another: When it comes to borrowing money from relatives there are only two camps. Those who have no qualms about asking for a loan, and those who’d rather sell a kidney than ask Mom and Dad to spot them.
The creative types I hang out with (you know who you are) are definitely in the curious column, while the bean-counter side (I love you guys too) can be driven half-mad by all my questions.
I never really thought about the polarizing effect of curiosity until I picked up, A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life. In it, film producer Brian Grazer opened my eyes with his decades of curiosity conversations with notable experts – some famous, like Mick Jagger, some not, epidemiologist Tim Uyeki. Grazer deconstructs curiosity, calling it the engine of innovation and creativity… and yet curiosity is still overcoming its own negative history (Let’s face it, the cat did die.).
Using curiosity to empower others, and later anti-curiosity to sidestep critics, Grazer’s life-long study of this trait is fascinating. Easily the most powerful passage is about how he has no expectation of any immediate payoffs. He is curious for the sake of being curious. It’s an important point he makes. We’ve become this impatient, results-centric world. Sure, we all SAY we’re creative and innovative, but are we? Has the instant Google-ability on any subject we might ponder actually drained our society of ingenuity?
I truly loved this book. A Curious Mind was a tap on my shoulder. A reminder to slow down, have wonder in the present moment, and continue to ask questions – even the ones without answers — that irritate others.
Thank you, Mr. Grazer. Your book would make the late Maya Angelou proud. After all, she said, “When you know better, do better.” And isn’t that the point, to be curious enough to seek out the better in all of our lives? Because ultimately, it’s the better that unites society… including those who name their cars and those who don’t.