Curiosity

Developing a curiosity for something – even understanding how you develop curiosity for something – is (within itself) a paradox. At least to me it is. If your mind were a blank slate and you had no prior knowledge or familiarity towards a particular place, person, idea, concept, theory, art form, whatever, how and why is it that certain things spark our interest and other things don’t?   I mean there had to have been some kind of pre-requisite, some sort of subconscious or repressed experience or memory, right? I mean, how does that work? Why does it work? What is the governor on this?

For example, why have I always loved martial arts? I know “how” it happened. I saw The Karate Kid when I was five and the rest is history. But why? I want to say it’s because “it’s in the blood,” family history, genetics, etc. But it’s not that. My dad worked in business, my mom is a scientist, my grandfathers were a farmer and sailor, respectively and my grandmothers were homemakers. So it’s not that either.

But that’s just one thing. One specific thing. And over the years I have developed an obsession with martial arts supplemented by an array of personal experience as a student, a competitor, a spectator, and add to that copious amounts of esoteric knowledge ranging from country of origin to being able to identify which martial art is being used by a practitioner on sight alone.

In the world of the Internet, smartphones, Netflix, and the overall instant gratification existence that everyone in a first-world country resides in, I have begun to realize and experience conflicting downsides to this world. Maybe not the downsides that  you would think. Sure we spend too much time online and as a result we are losing our abilities to socialize in person, our attention spans have been rubbed down to the nub, and as an English teacher, I am realizing that grammar and writing skills are also on life support.

But for me the most frustrating thing is not how nearly everyone and everything is trying to get my attention. The most frustrating thing is that nearly everyone and everything succeeds at it. As a result, when I do have free time, I become extremely anxious. I am captivated by everything. As long as it teaches me something, I want to learn it. At least one thing.

I am very fortunate to have friends from a multitude of cultural backgrounds involved in an array of professions and lifestyles. All of which, peak my curiosity. The vet tech, the digital editor, the marketing executive, the astrophysicist, the nurse, the immigration lawyer, the SLP. I have – and will continue to – pick their brains about their expertise. Let me learn something that I can take with me into a conversation with a stranger or into recalling some prior knowledge that might save my life one day and I don’t even know it yet.

Reading is something that I’ve also always enjoyed doing. Words on  page are a collection of secrets, ideas, hopes, fantasies, and fears. I want to know it all. But it’s not a “know-it-all” kind of attitude I want to bestow upon people. It’s not a “know-it-all” persona I want to be perceived as. I just want to appear smart. Better yet, I want to be smart. I feel like I’ve just been pretending to appear smart for most of my life.

Whenever I am asked to do something, I try to get it done as fast as I possibly can. It’s not because I don’t care even though sometimes the half-ass result that comes from my speeding through things is evident. It’s because there’s always something else that I am doing or thinking about and I don’t want to lose it. I don’t want to lose perspective on this idea or thought that I have that may result in my next great story.

Here’s how my brain works; I’ve got the perfect metaphor for you. Remember the game “Telephone?” When someone would whisper a sentence into one person’s ear in a room full of people. Then that one person whispers it to the person next to them and so on until it goes all around the room. When it gets to the last person and they say out loud what they thought they heard it’s something completely different. THAT’S how my brain works… all the time. And maybe, just maybe one of the “people” (we’ll call them synapsis in my brain) interpreted or thought they heard a great idea, but then immediately after it says what it thought it heard, it’s gone. So then I have to track down that person (or synapse) to coax them out of saying what they said whether it was the original message or not. THAT’S my brain.

I would love some help or advice on this. I already write everything down. I’m writing this down. Besides it’s also part of my personal statement on my resumé. How do I organize my ideas (and my mind) into something I can work with and not something that’s constantly playing defense against me?

I just want to absorb as much as I can, comprehend what I am absorbing, and put it to creative work in the best possible way based on my sensibilities every time. Is that too much to ask?

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