The hunt

During a search for the items that drive us many possibilities will turn up. The first thing that may spring to mind is survival. We all want to survive, don’t we? Indeed, many have gone to extraordinary lengths to stay alive. But others have given up and met slow deaths in similar circumstances. People have removed limbs with small penknives to un-trap themselves. A portable telephone is great but if you leave it in the cab out of reach and now have your hand trapped in some farm machine it is not much help. To cut through your arm, sever all the muscles and hack through the bone is no mean feat with a small implement and no painkillers to take. One renowned individual managed to stay alive on a raft for over seven weeks. This was achieved by catching fish to eat and trapping rain water to drink. What makes the tale most remarkable is that the long drift began without a fishhook. With just bare hands a nail was prised from the wood of the raft to make one. This however took several days and must have caused more aggravation than a mere splinter or two.

Some of us fight and fight and fight to survive whereas others are more prone to give up and wither away. Babies can be seen battling for life probably clueless as to what lies ahead and why they exist. They show a will to live and a strong urge to soldier on. We do not always care about our own survival though. There have been a few mothers who have thrown their child to safety when an oncoming vehicle would take them both out. They died but the child survived. During armed conflict with gunmen on a rampage parents have jumped onto their child to shield them. In the aftermath those going to investigate found many children alive and well underneath a body ridden with bullet holes. Remarkable tales of compassion and desperation. The last hope that their child doesn’t get killed as well.

We might steal to eat. Kill to defend ourselves. Push to the front of the queue to increase our chances. Not to mention clambering over seats, trampling on others to escape a burning vehicle. But will sacrifice our own self in times of despair to protect ones we love. We resort to desperate measures on occasions if required. Nevertheless, we don’t just want to survive, we want to thrive more so. We don’t simply want to make it to the next year for the sake of it. Survival is a big thing but there are things that make us want to survive.

Procreation, keeping the population going, is that what we are here for? It is regarded as important and is prominent in our lives. There is little doubt that having children is essential for the continuation of the species. However, from an individual’s perspective it doesn’t have to be you that breeds. So long as enough people are maintaining the population humankind will continue. You might be infertile. You may not find a suitable partner. You may simply elect to remain childless and be perfectly happy so, but still getting erect for the pleasure it brings. What’s more, youngsters do not have marriage and baby making playing on their mind. You do not even need to contribute towards the raising of other peoples’ children either. You do not form some sort of ancillary function. Just child free. Having children does bring great joy and satisfaction to parents. No doubt about it. Even after the hassle is taken into account. Many may aspire to settling down and starting a family and see it is a big part of life. This can push them to try hard to fulfil this dream, but it is not universal. Some do, some don’t. There is something deeper at work.

When you get old, your direct role in procreation ends. Some might retain some grand-parenting duties. Maybe providing help with childcare if the adults want to work. Nevertheless, as far as child rearing is concerned you are no longer essential nor as vital as you once were. That being so, it doesn’t necessarily make you feel worthless however. Relieved and unconstrained to pursue other things with your time and able to provide advice and assistance to ease the burden when required. We most certainly don’t drop off the face of the planet when the job of parenting comes to an end. We can in fact begin a whole new journey and have more time to explore. If you opt out of parenting altogether you still can strive to make something of yourself. You can devour time and energy to equally extraordinary adventures. Having children is not the only highlight or absolute imperative. Not for everyone and it is more of a long chapter in our life than the whole book.

There is no grand scheme at work. We are not here just to assist in the continuation of the species. It doesn’t matter how long you live or what you add or take away. It is just those species, the animals, the plants that happen to spread are the ones we see.

Clearly intercourse is somewhat compelling to a vast number of us. Hours of interplay, chatting up and chasing preceding a comparatively short-lived climax. Many will see great value in paying very significant sums to explore fantasies when not available for free in a relationship. Neither is it unheard of for characters to travel great distances to partake in specialist sexual interactions. A big force is at play. Sometimes dangerously so. Gratifying and moreish enough to be sought and desired day after day. Whilst sex can be a huge factor in getting us into action the question is whether there is something beneath this primal urge; something promoting the craving. It is also worth noting that it might be on your mind day and night, but I can assure you that is not the case for everyone. Significant yes, but not the be all and end all.

Taking on the responsibility of passing on our genes plays on the minds of many. Whilst there was a time when we didn’t understand the connection between sex and conception an animal instinct to copulate is abound leading to replication. It is a nice idea to spread your genes far and wide, more so if you think of your genes as being special. Yet no matter how royal, the passing on becomes diluted rather quickly. Any immediate offspring is half yours and half your spouses. Your grandchildren divide it into a quarter. By ten generations it is watered down to one part in over a thousand. It is less of a chain and more of a murky pool that you emerge from and potentially contribute to. Many will see procreation as the most significant part of living but what I am asking is, is something at work underneath this. I also contend to reassure those that don’t replicate that their life is not in any way less significant. Each life is driven by its own internal mechanism for its own ends irrespective of how much contribution it makes to the species. Your goofiness, ginger, gregarious gene segment that skips generations or rears its head later down the line is no more remarkable than all the other characteristics seen as good or bad that so many many others add or take away also each time a child is born.

Payments for wining and dining, payments for bills, payments payments payments, the bills keep rolling in. Money can be a pretty big incentive to work and has been a part of how we live for a long time now. Hunting and gathering, growing food to eat and building somewhere to live. All either using a monetary system or beg and barter. The lure of money can provide the impetus to make a huge effort. Whether for the proceeds of what the cash can do or for the status it brings. The money itself, the power it gives us, or the harsh necessity to survive. We know that whilst money is in essence artificial, we care a lot for being paid as remuneration for jobs we have done or having it in exchange for a change in ownership of something. The money people acquire might be deserved or gleaned through greed. Either way it can be attractive and magnetic. Nonetheless some manage quite contentedly with very little. Enjoying the freedom of life without the rush for wealth and the anxiety that it comes with, casting aside the pressure of keeping up. Our drive for prosperity in monetary terms is not shared by all. Some want it but some do not feel the same need.

Someone might offer a reward to locate a lost cat, some will hunt for it, not for the money they will get, but for the fun of finding it. Treasure hunts have been set up and a good few get hooked by the enigma of the puzzle using vague clues to find where it is hidden. After digging here, digging there, exasperated, they want the prize so much that they have offered 10 times its value to get to the bottom of where it was buried. An object can become much more than its monetary value and as much as we love money we can throw it into the wind for a whimsical purpose.

Money has entered into every nook and cranny of our waking day. It has become something we use to such a great extent that we begin to see it as the elixir of life. You can fill your car up with tons of stuff and return home having swapped it with a few sheets of printed paper and feel jolly pleased with yourself. But you can equally go out for a walk with the dog visiting a park and trundle through the woods and have no thought of cash on your mind whatsoever. You don’t always have to buy your partner a box of chocolates or promise a meal out to get them to engage in some nookie. Of course you will need to pay for the house and buy the bed in the first place but there are many people that manage on the bare minimum. Cash, gold, stocks and shares sit on top of a deeper desire.

Progression can be very alluring; collecting a complete set, making headway in a project, finishing a task or achieving a grade of greatness and so forth. Being given a badge or sticker on a chart thus enabling you to move to the next level. Getting extra skills to take on harder challenges and making past tests a walkthrough. A sense of moving forward. More money can provide that sometimes. But so can moving up the scale thereby having more privileges. We may be given qualifications to enable us to earn more, but they are something that we can be chuffed about. People that have demonstrated their greater level of skill gain entitlement to wear a more decorated uniform and different coloured clothing to show their higher banding. Progression and collecting is not only consigned to stamp collectors and train spotters it is much more widespread. It is all about having an aim, setting a goal and trying to get there in a fair-minded way as possible. What the hell makes us want to put even more decorated trinkets into our collection when we already have enough to fill ten suitcases already? Why are we prepared to break a limb or ruin our body to get the top medal in some sporting event?

Whilst some show ambition to make a name for themselves, to make changes and improve things others are more inclined to build relationships. That provides a different sort of stimulus to material accumulation or fame. Many find that to feel sufficiently fulfilled all they need do is a find a partner to live with. Merely being with someone is enough to be adequately satisfied. Some people do enjoy nothing more than the company of themselves, alone but not lonely. Sailing off, hiding away for long periods of time. Yet the majority revel in the company of others. Real face to face communication has the potential to rouse the soul, lift our spirits and harbour contentment. It is the building of bridges between us that counts. Having friends of quality as opposed to quantity, ones which you can call upon for help and advice, concern and comfort. The good moments with friends, partners and family gets us through the lows of a day.

Love can come into it. You can have a wish to extend this love of yourself to others, most laudably towards minors and major people in your life. Hold this thought for later and see where all of this emotive passion fits in. Ideally people stay with you or at least stay in touch as the fondness they have of you is reciprocated and shared in roughly equal measure. Whether people really like you as much as you think is not that important, it only matters that people appear to like you. However, nothing surpasses having those that remain at your side regardless. Through all hardship, irrespective of your standing or level of wealth they are there. It is a bond that has no material measure, instead an untouchable feeling locked in our hearts.

We share passions and join clubs with those interested in the same pursuits. Nothing beats having trusting buddies to dive into something with. On this note survival takes second place to thrills in hazardous sports. We do not disregard the dangers but embrace them instead. Pushing the limits makes some people feel more alive, giving them a big rush of excitement. It provides a reason to live. More and more to try. The greater the challenge and the nearer we go towards the edge possible without fatally injuring ourselves, the more appealing it seems. Fun because of the risk rather than despite it.

We also form unions whether at work or socially, to change the politics or move an enterprise forward. It is as much about the camaraderie as the gains in perceived fairness. It is about making a difference. This can create satisfaction and is edifying to those involved. In most cases only a few stand out as the militant ones. The majority follow where others lead. You could argue that principles are a driving force. People certainly draw on as much bluster as they can muster to push something through that is a matter of principle rather than of real importance to the many. Along with envy, jealousy and attempts to eliminate unfairness these are second tier items that propel us.

Whether working to live or living to work take your pick, never can one state that work is the sole feature of everyone’s life. We certainly spend a lot of time at work and strive to build a career and become a master of what we do. How many would still work if they did not need to is subject to debate but we usually feel much better in ourselves for doing something productive, even a menial job provides satisfaction. Building a career or an empire is once again underpinned by base wants, wants in common with a homeless workless tramp.

I am one who likes to do things for others. I want to build a future for the next generation, make the society I live in more equitable more open and one that provides opportunities for all. Good for you so long as you don’t get too side-tracked to find some fulfilment for yourself in the process that is not about such an ambition. Far from being scornful about such ventures, people who get changes made are to be applauded. However, people recognise that even with compromises there are often unintended consequences. Building a dam provides electricity and a lake for boating, but it alters the ecosystem. We think we are doing the right thing until we see that it is also detrimental in some way. Utopia building or simple modifications made to give people basic access to water and sanitation provide a drive to get up and do something about it. Spreading the word and providing an education to those spared this delight is another thing that can motivate us into action. Making the world a better place is a valid claim but thankfully not taken up by too many at once. It doesn’t do it for everyone.

We can also be motivated by duty. Where we find ourselves willing to act to sort things that are in a mess. Some are obliged by authorities to commit time and effort into a battle of freedom or ideology. All that matters at this point is that a fair few either object or decline to get involved, the sense of duty and inclination to make a stand is not that rife worldwide. Most take a lot of coaxing to get them on side and into battle; a drive is not forced on you it comes from within.

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From survival, sex, through to treasure seeking it is the very nature of enquiry that brings us towards the answer. That which brought your attention to this text probing you to find out what it is about. Call it inquisitiveness or curiosity that thing at the heart of us that wants to know more. It is one of the three and bit things common to all.

It is not what you are interested in, in particular that matters. It is just the fact that you like to find out more and explore certain things that appeal to you. Some pay attention to the news or catch up on the sports results; others keep abreast with the local gossip. Aunt Mable is having an affair. At her age. Really? Every facet in life has a curiosity factor. To find out what it is like to have sex. To glean facts or fiction from a book. To travel and see what there is in different places. To experience other ways of life in other countries. When we get back, we want to know what has been happening in our locality whilst we were away. The height of curiosity surrounds intrigue and mystery where we want to get to the bottom of something. Whether it is to solve a crime or root out a problem in physics. Curiosity.

We all know that curiosity killed the cat, but do we realise that it plays such an important part in what we do. It is woven deeply into our make-up. The three drives are responsible for everything we do. Either an individual drive acting alone or a combination of them all.

Right from the moment you wake up, in terms of curiosity, you are at it. Some check the time then spend a few moments trying to work out what day it is. You want to know. Some jump straight out of bed whether they know how late it is or not. Others dwell in the bliss of that early morning relax. Awake and pondering, posturing and exploring thoughts. The nature of your curiosity changes during the day and carries on right up to the point you fall asleep. Some with more years behind them than years ahead, wonder if it will be the last time they go to sleep and wake up again.

The nature of our curiosity is tremendously varied. From small talk about who is doing what to finding out about historic events through to scientific enquiry. No interest can be deemed more important than others, just more important to the individual. Wanting to explore is in our spirit. Trying to find out when, why and what for. From the moment we are born to the end of our lives we are driven to do things because of our curiosity. A good many of us wanted to have sex with someone, anyone sometimes in part to find out what the experience would bring. In partnerships, we try different positions and experiment with different aids. All in the exploration of ourselves and in-conjunction with another person. In the case of things such as sex it is not about curiosity alone, but it is a significant element.

Our individual search for answers and wish to know things reaches out far and wide. It contains a lot of diversity. It might include a wanting to be around to find out how our children fare as they grow up. Catching up with friends and family to get up to date with the things they have done. Opening the newspaper to find out about the events in our locality and around the world. Sounding out new instruments to see if a better one is available for our music score. Venturing far afield to see the way others live and behave and to see what it is like in different climates, different settings. To see the wonders of the world for ourselves. Those that don’t venture further than the end of their garden still have mysteries to uncover right at home. Get stuck in a high rise flat with no opportunity to get out and about and the desolation doesn’t dampen our curiosity it just frustrates it.

Inquisitiveness features in so much of what we do, utilising all the senses from touching and feeling objects to putting them in our mouth. Compare the feel of a piece of velvet with the skin of an animal. You see some unusual food. First, we take a look and guess the texture. Then we have a sniff. Finally taking a bite to satisfy the question “what is it like?”

When the curiosity dies so does the person. When you no longer care what happens at the end of the book you shelve it part way through. You may also switch the channel when the programme or film no longer inspires. Though when it does, you'll sit there for a long while to find out the conclusion, just to see what happens. Spoil it for someone by hinting at what is about to come. Some of us will spend a lifetime working on a single problem despite the effort required to resolve it. As you explore, more questions arise leading to further curiosity.

A film has the ability to take you on a journey while you lie back on your seat right into the action and promises that you will get a real sense of what it is like to be somewhere else. You are led to believe that you will experience the full effect of taking a boat down a river along the jungle over the rapids and emulate the tension of living. Except it can’t. The stimulatory effect gets better with more effort put into the visual, sound and environment of the auditorium, but it is hard to replicate the physicality of being bitten by mosquitoes, getting soaked, dealing with the disquiet and nervousness of people you can meet on such a journey all in the comfort of your home or cinema. The curiosity satisfied by going on an adventure is bound to be filled with events that take many forms. When you return, you let people know what you got up to, but it is hard to put into words. Your memory of what the Oncho berry tasted like is hard to explain unlike something less pleasant like the carpet tile nature of the pasta meal you were given. Curiosity filling is not just about a single fact. Somebody can give you an idea of what something is like but until you have tried it for yourself you won’t understand it fully. They are only feeding you words and gestures, they can’t portray the full experience and will also have a different take on it than you may get. You have the ideas, the words and the curiosity compels you to add the physical sensory inputs to join up the mental pathways.

It is all about the gaps. What links coat and fire. Maybe warmth, a gap between words. You see a picture and wonder what it represents, where it was made. Who is in the photo? You hear a sound, what caused it. Who wrote a song? Any gap in your knowledge is brought to your attention. Not everyone is fascinated by the same things, but when there is a motive to look further, we make a lot of effort to find out more. If someone mentions a spigot you might think, what is that? Some will ignore it as they don’t care, others will be intrigued and investigate what one is. You may worry more about the expression on someone’s face, trying to work out whether they are hurt, afraid, upset or annoyed with you.

We can be on the hunt for patterns, looking for matches and seeing where something fits in. We know the bird on the branch is a bird but what type is it, what group is it in, bird of prey or song bird. Our minds are full of concepts, data and memories and before a link is made between each such node, we have this aggravating gap. We endeavour to fill it where necessary and once it has it can be ignored for a while.

The first key point is to understand is that the validity, truth or accuracy of what lies in your mind, is irrelevant. You can live a whole life from start to finish with information that other people will claim to be completely wrong and it does not matter one jot. They may be wrong also or only partially correct. Or right for the wrong reasons. The bulk of what you know is most likely to be incomplete at best and frequently contradictory to the beliefs and knowledge others have. What we hold in our mind is rarely the same as what is stored in that of others. We might live with someone for a good portion of our life never realising that they have a different way of thinking about things. Despite all those conversations it may seem like we have the same ideas but they never always quite match. Many things seem right to you and will remain so for as long as you can refrain from using your inquisitiveness to check it out more thoroughly.

When a child asks you how something works you can provide an explanation to appease them. If the answer that you give seems reasonable it will usually satisfy them regardless of whether it is correct or orthodox. In many cases any answer will do. A child asks you how does the steering wheel in the car connect to the wheels. Now you have a choice. You can bring out the elastic band concept. Tell them there is a big elastic band that pulls and pushes the wheels from side to side and some children will accept this and visualize what you mean. Some won’t believe you as they have played with elastic bands and know they stretch and snap. You then try the “I don’t know” ploy but that makes you seem less adult and all-knowing and then you face having the child pestering you forever in the day to find out. If you bring up rack and pinions, then you face the daunting task of then having to explain those elements as well and maybe even trying to draw some diagrams when all you want to do is get home and put your feet up. Some people, kids included will accept flaky information. The issue is that every time they see or think about cars, they follow the mental pathway towards how they are steered and get reminded about this problem ‘something’ that breaks the trail. If they see someone changing a tyre the sight of the wheel brings up the steering problem once again. So many triggers and a hole in their knowledge. All manner of things and situations can bring up a deficit in our understanding. Any time someone or something is doing something that we haven’t come across before there is a potential to get a spark of curiosity so long as it is within our field of intrigue.

We will get a diet of junk information fed via our parents and at school. Some of it may have some merit but it will also be biased for sure. Someone decides what will be taught and what will be left aside.

When we search for more, we are liable to exclude ideas outside of what we are accustomed to. The term brain washed is used to describe cases where the information provided is too narrow in scope. Extremely limited. Extremely one sided. The truth has been kept from them. Very little is truly true but shutting out other viewpoints feeds only those wanting power. Had this text been written in a different country or in a different era there would be other things included and lots not. Much would be the same but things of interest get missed if the writer has not encountered it.

We can also rinse a mind of unacceptable ideas, particularly anything counter revolutionary or against the script. Once your mind is so full of information all cleaned of balance and proportion, we become brain awash. This makes us incapable of thinking along other lines. It is insidious and sad. You can only think in a language that you know. You can’t consider something that you don’t understand or have not encountered. You can only relate to what you have experience of and if all of this and more is based on one ideology then you will not care about so many other possibilities.

Curiosity is not complex. Not in the slightest, even though we consider ourselves to be highly intelligent random predictable super beings we are built upon simple mechanics. It starts with the seed. This seed can be anything we come across. From the seed we begin to follow pathways in our minds. Were one to think of a cat then one can then run through some links, fur, coat, warm, fire, wood, tree, apple, pips, swallow, bird and to feather and so on. See one on a ledge and wonder what it is up to, hunting, scouring for another cat to fight or mate with. Lots of possibilities. Links may be in a chain or in a spoke wheel like manner. You can start again with the cat and have paws, whiskers, tail, meow, fur, purr and other attributes of a cat trigger in your mind. Along with the words themselves you can have sounds, feelings and also some form of imagery inter related. If the cat is up to some mischief again, will it lead to more vet’s bills. Curiosity arises from gaps in these chain links or items missing from the central hub.

It rears its head in many ways, maybe manifesting itself when you decide it necessary to look up the standard definition of a word or find a way of obtaining a mental picture of it. You can find out what something looks like through search and discovery. Upon seeing something we may wonder what they are called and what they do. The seed is sown and if we have the inclination, if it piques our interest, we begin the process of finding out more. When we have no mental path from a seed to the understanding of how it relates to that what we have in our mind already we seek out more information. The gap is the curiosity.

Closure, the filling in of the small details, the little bits that niggle us. Who did it and why to me. What was their thinking? Was this tragedy caused by something that I didn’t spot? Who was really at fault? Was it avoidable, will I get an appropriate apology and will something be done to prevent it from happening again? Curiosity can plague us far more if we do not have a path to follow. If you have a plan which you hope will lead to an answer it is less troublesome. Gaps can’t be filled if we have doubts about the veracity, the truth of what we have been told. Frustration ensues as we have the constant niggle but no idea of what direction to explore. A prisoner may hatch an escape plan and work through all the obstacles. Finding out what can and can’t be done. This gives them a target and reason to be optimistic. If your hunt for an answer is blocked, we can’t rest.

Filling the gaps is usually pleasurable. A breakdown on the road causes a blockage and a delay, not as nice as a smooth ride home. When a bypass is built, you have another option, an alternative - a faster or a more enjoyable route to take. This is similar to having new ways of thinking about things. Upon bridging a number of puzzling areas with new links it gives rise to a period of restful contentment. It feels good filling those gaps. It is an actual physical change in the biological structure of the mind that brings about pleasure. This contentment may turn to disappointment soon afterwards when we no longer have an aim that gave us a reason to try.

There is a difficult question of how our understanding starts, with so much of what we know being dependant on so many other things that run in circles through our mind. We can posit that a child will get a sensation then make associations. A new marvellous journey through life is rooted in links that form right from the start. Words get added when we garner language and memories of being too warm, too bright too distasteful and a pictorial representation or recall of a scene all adds to a highly elaborate schema. Untold elementary links producing a machine that can be appeased and delighted by a change of state. When we add the new link of feeling some heat, we not only add the word ‘warm’ to a place, an object, but create a representation and a recall of that scene. It is multi-dimensional, multi-faceted and enables us to learn a new process, to do something without getting burnt. Discovering how it is done and getting a new ability is a feature of how we use curiosity to further ourselves.

From not knowing to knowing more, the curiosity gadget rewards us when we make new links. The validity of the links, the integrity of them, the accuracy, the relevance, its meaningfulness is nothing other than personally preferred. Once a clean smooth pathway is formed you don’t get alerted to it. If there is a gap, a piece missing or a section where the concepts don’t quite marry up, your mind will invoke an interrupt and you pay attention to it. You can either find a way of ignoring it or try to find out what information you have that is wrong or incomplete. Whilst there are some obvious comparisons to certain other machines our memories are not always binary in nature as some can be much more hazy, chemical, analogue rather than definitive on or off in nature.

The curiosity we have has similar strength but directed in completely different ways depending upon those seeds that get sown. We can have a conversation that makes us take a whole new direction in life. A signpost on the highway can entice us to take a new turn. A thought path that we take may jolt us if it were to encounter an error, something that doesn't seem right or is incomplete and it bugs us. Really bugs us. It stokes inquisitiveness. We want that thought path fixed or filled and we go to incredible lengths at times to do so. We also do it for ourselves and we do it on behalf of others too. When filling out a form describing yourself you come across a section marked ‘interests’. Now some will write ‘none’. Putting down ‘walking’ and ‘going to restaurants’ is not only dull but obvious as pretty much everyone does that. Leaving it as none makes people wonder about you, not that you are an oddball but that you must have some interests and it will be worth getting you in to find out. You can use the power of curiosity to your advantage if you want to.

“What you don’t know about, doesn’t bother you.”

The term ignorance can refer to a form of stupidity. It can be about ignoring something, but it is used here mainly to describe the way we are oblivious to some things. You may be living atop a gold mine and never find out about its existence. You live with it there and never discover it. Whether it would have made you happier or whether it would have made your life run more smoothly or whether it could have even been the start of your downfall is pure conjecture. In a different vain, if you have no awareness of the plight of an individual who is suffering or succeeding it simply passes you by. We only have the capacity to care for a relatively small number of things. We can only pay attention to a small number of people. You can’t have four hundred friends. You are not able to devote time to more than a handful, the rest are just a list of people who you have made contact with. In the world around us there are issues aplenty. People in desperate situations. We tend to throw a few coins into a charity bucket and head off to lunch as normal. There are also many with noteworthy accomplishments. You just take a pick and read up about some that seem interesting. The rest? The sun rises and sets before you wade through the highlights. Finding the spare minutes to sign another petition is a stretch. It is not physically possible to get involved with everything we encounter. The world is not full to the brim with dastardly acts, but some knowledge will be scarring and detrimental to the well-being of one’s soul, particularly war and pestilence. By living in a bubble people can shield themselves from the traumas people suffer. We may forget any sense of responsibility due to a lack of awareness. Others are left to pick up the pieces and see things that prompt them towards getting involved. Some do not have the capacity to even recognise much outside their narrow domain. The extent of your curiosity about certain things will not be matched by the curiosity other people have for it. You may care about the rise of your favourite pop star but others will not have even heard of them let alone uncovered the beauty in the lyrics of their songs.

For the most part, we only need to fill the gaps in our knowledge in order to cope, we don't need to understand every precise trivial detail of something. To drive a car, we do not need to know all the mechanics of how it works. We can manage with just the skills to control and utilise the vehicle rather than bothering with a complete knowledge of how the previously mentioned steering wheel changes the direction of travel. But those who are in the business of improving a car would explore the inner workings in detail. Each person will delve in as far as they feel it is warranted.

As soon as you start looking into something, holes in your knowledge start to appear. It might not be an academic item as such. If you get an inkling that someone close to you is up to something you want to know more. What secrets are they keeping from you? Unless you can prevent yourself from beginning these avenues of thought you will keep getting irritated to a certain degree by those missing things, items withheld from you. A prime example is how you will be distracted if you can only hear half of a conversation. Someone not too far away is on the phone. You can hear them but not the person on the other end of the line. You mind tries to work out what this other person is saying. Guessing and assuming and calculating with various degrees of accuracy consuming a lot of mind power. This can be much more distracting than when the whole conversation is audible as you get both sides of the little story and have no doubts about what is being said. It can be hard to get to sleep when you can blatantly hear someone talking to someone else but can’t hear what both are saying. It is all about trying to calculate and create complete pathways in your mind. Curiosity keeps rearing its head until you find a way of managing it.

One thing that will restrain our curiosity is boredom. It has an important function. Boredom helps us avoid becoming forever stuck. A child playing with the same toy day in day out learns far less than a child playing with everything in the house. No doubt some things that are sufficiently interesting will overpower the boredom of paying attention to it for a long time. Most children can get a lot of amusement from watching the same cartoon over and over and doing the same jigsaw with you to your utter dismay as the filtration system of laying down ever stronger pathways takes effect. Some will have an inherent super rigid routine structure that quashes the boredom in favour of repeating the activity interminably but only a jester can be the judge of what is normal in this respect. Children are less likely to be challenged about their habit of repeating what they did yesterday as we give them more leeway. As adults, we may attempt to disguise our predictable routines to avoid being tainted with a boring tag. What is boring to you is boring to you and you alone and perhaps those in your small camp.

Boredom can balance curiosity and reign it in. Curiosity needs this restraining yet liberating force of boredom to work fully. This can be a nuisance when you want to discover something impressive. Studying countless documents, researching and probing for ages with an inner voice egging you on to leave it and do something more fun instead. If the gap is large, you can obtain enough determination to keep focused.

Boredom tends to manifest itself when you either have little of interest to do or are doing something of little interest over and over. If you fill and empty the same reward buckets again and again there is no change, inadequate variation. You also have more and more reward areas sending ever increasing interrupt requests in a ‘withdrawal’ manner making it harder to concentrate on a particular task. If you vary what you do or at least make plans for change in the near future, you are less likely to experience so much wearisomeness. A challenge of any sort will open up new possibilities, but again if you have already accomplished things of a similar nature doing it again will not always provide the noticeable feelings of reward. We might go to the same café in hope of recapturing the magic of that last chip butty we had there last time but it is the novelty, the new experience that forms the seduction. You may well go to the same café and eat roughly the same thing but meet new people or just change the sauce on the butty to get some point of difference.

Boredom can be a great motivator for change. When we have had enough with the way our life is going, we can be inspired to change. The monotony that has taken root is the key part of thinking about moving on. A tipping point is reached. We may change our job, our subject of study or place of residence partly to find out what other paths will bring and in part to escape the boredom of the present circumstances. Boredom and curiosity are factors that drive us. Only factors, not the complete reason for doing things, however. Part of the reason we want to survive is because we want to discover what will happen in our lives later on. We want to know what the future brings.

To claim that we are driven in part by our inherent curiosity is not particularly controversial. It is widely accepted in part because the term has minimal ambiguity and is easy to comprehend. The other two things that drive us are far more complex. They take much longer to explain and even longer to understand. It is easy to present it, but you have to think about how it works and how it applies for a very long time to truly relate to it. Does curiosity fulfil the aim of finding an element that is within all people of all ages and drives them to live as they do, if not what does?


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