she repeatedly pricked
her curious finger
on the same tempting thorn.
“Because sometimes you have to do something bad to do something good.”
Curiosity can be a cruel friend on occasion.
I imagine I could say that being curious is a cruel gift. The curious are always on a trajectory of … well … more. It is difficult to ever attain “enough” if you are curious. This is different than unlearning this is actually just about insatiable learning. Each step never begets a desire to rest but rather to take another step toward some unseen horizon. This comes at a cost.
I share this graph I drew because most curious people do not always assess any consequential cost-benefit analysis when embracing this seemingly infinite abyss <or, more positively, a well> of curiosity.
It doesn’t really matter if your curiosity drags you down the more shallow slope of surface breadth of tantalizing “one learning begets a path to another learning” or the more focused depth of “how much can I learn about this” … the temptation of curiosity is more often cruel than it is pleasant.
This means curiosity goes where it may … even if the outcome is harmful, useless or endless. This also means the curious, in a cruel twist of fate, are often treated as ‘ignorant’ of what is important with regard to using their time <this happens often in aa business world of “measurement of doing not thinking“>.
Even with all that cruelty … suffice it to say people, in general, have a tendency to go above and beyond but the curious are almost addicted to the above & beyond. This seemingly instinctual urge to gain information we don’t really need is extraneous — and at its most extreme, dangerous.
Dangerous? Well … yeah.
If you think about it, having an overactive curiosity muscle is almost counter intuitive to evolutionary theory, i.e., the most curious among us should’ve been killed off pretty quickly. And, yet, curiosity has survived, people have survived and the undeniable drive to actively pursue “above & beyond’ survives.
That doesn’t mean it is any less cruel … just that it permits survival.
The other cruel aspect of curiosity is its uncomfortably close relationship with ignorance. Theoretically curiosity exists to remove ignorance. Far be it from me to point out that if your curiosity is never completely sated then ignorance remains, exists and is most likely bigger than ever before.
I did point that out.
Cruelty … plain cruelty.
I imagine someone could embrace ignorance and avoid the cruel aspects of curiosity although I would suggest a closed mind actually expands ignorance. And as ignorance expands … within that growing emptiness … I would imagine at some point someone is going to be tempted to know what lightning was, what the stars were, how something can be done better, done faster or just done, or even why someone got sick and someone got better … or whatever temptation may arise within ignorance?
Temptation is temptation.
The thorns of curiosity. The cruelty of curiosity has never stopped the curious even despite the fact that most of the curious are not particularly good at assessing long term consequences nor are they particularly good at assessing the cost/benefit analysis.
In July 2016 The Scientific American magazine published an article called — Curiosity Is Not Intrinsically Good <The human drive to resolve uncertainty is so strong that people will look for answers even when it’s obvious those answers will be painful>. I would point out that does not mean curiosity is not good just that if you do not manage your curiosity well … that s not good.
Curiosity may be cruel. Curious people may suck at cost benefit analysis, assessing consequences of their curious time investment and gathering useful information versus useless information … but sometimes you have to do something bad to do something good.
As with everything else in Life … the best of the curious learn to manage their addiction. They learn to balance the depth versus the breadth, the time invested versus the return on their investment and while they know that their curiosity can be cruel at times … they just learn to carry some band aids for the times they prick their fingers on the inevitable thorns.
I still believe we, as a society, would be a much healthier society if we handed out band aids and encouraged more curiosity rather than curb curiosity by suggesting it is most useful to ‘the dreamers.’ In fact … back in July 2010 I even suggested a “National Program to Support Childhood Curiosity” directed toward kids <with Curiosity Fulfillment teachers>. I still believe this would be a better initiative than most of the more focused, but misguided, initiatives it seems like we craft for our children these days.
Regardless. Curiosity can be a cruel gift … but a gift nonetheless.
“To myself I am only a child playing on the beach, while vast oceans of truth lie undiscovered before me.”