The dictionary classifies and defines curiosity as a noun, related to a particular kind of “desire,” (remember this image?) also a noun, related to a “feeling,” (an emotion,) of wanting, (verb, gerund.) So we end up with curiosity as an action. Curiosity is the active pursuit of understanding. If you’ve listed to Part 2 of our August 1st Podcast, you’ve heard the question, “What does curiosity feel like?” Is it just an intellectual experience, or is curiosity also an emotion or even a sensation? Jason de Silva describes curiosity as “an exhilarating neurostorm of intense intellectual
pleasure.” Activity. I find “pleasure” too passive here, as if you can sit outside the storm, “satisfied” with rage, and excitement, and its motion, its rather than swept up in awe from within it, or better yet helping to stir it!
de Silva also claims knowledge or “understanding” is curiosity’s vital end-goal. This may be, (or it may not..!) but this vision illuminates curiosity as process. It is learn-ing. It is creat-ing. One could argue that curiosity merely initiates action, ( “I was curious about x, so then I researched x,” ) suggesting curiosity is merely an intention that plays not further role once action takes over. However, when curiosity and action are conceptualized separately, we exclude ourselves from the excitement of learning and the richness of a result brought about by continued questioning.
But still, a neurostorm. What amazing motion that image inspires! What if you could feel your neurons firing, sending messages to one another through spatially chaotic yet intellectually organized networks inside your body. To feel that urgency. To feel that excitement. To feel the swirling whirlwind of infinite possibilities that exist in a moment that is pre-knowledge, pre-wisdom, and pre-judgement. Most importantly it is a sense of freedom within uncertainty. For many uncertainty is an intellectual sensation often met with fear and discomfort, yet curiosity allows us to meet this road with eagerness.
So, what does curiosity feel like to you? How can you shape moments of uncertainty in your life with curiosity?