Curiosity and the Wonder of Not Knowing

May 14, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” Rosalia de Castro

A couple ideas come to mind when I think about curiosity and not knowing.

Newton’s Beach

The first idea has come with age. I have discovered that “the more I know leads me to realize the less I actually know.” I am reminded of the famous story of Isaac Newton on the beach. Shortly before he died, Newton is said to have sat on a beach pondering the wonders of life when he realized that as much as he knew about science and the universe, he still regarded himself as only a pebble the on shore of great truth.

It was the “not knowing” that drove Newton’s curiosity to better understand the issues of gravity which led to science as we know it today through the eyes of Einstein and the like.

The Excitement of Having No Direction to Go

My second thought concerning not knowing is much more personal. As most of you know, I am an insatiable traveler. Add to that, I am a terrible tourist! I have very little interest in typical “tourist type sites.” I guess I have already seen much of what I desire to see, (especially in Europe.)

I find myself captured by culture and the surprises of ordinary sights that I would never have otherwise even experienced. For instance, an ideal day-trip is to walk out of my Airbnb, backpack on, point a direction rather unconsciously, and say, “That’s where I’m headed today” and just start walking. I find markets and cafes, vendors and ice cream shops. On oh, always just a bit of expresso on the way.

Driven by know knowing where I am headed I become immensely curious. Just as Rosalia de Castro writes, “Not knowing where I am going inspires me to travel it.”

Know-It-Alls, Yuk

Don’t you find know-it-all personalities to be immensely frustrating and boring. Incapable of discussion, the only type of conversation they can have is one in which they lecture and you listen. Instead, I love conversationalists that surprise me with “I don’t know much about that” or “tell me more.”

Perhaps the purpose of this post is to lift up the “Not-Knowers” and encourage others regarding the power of the ravenous curiosity that comes with admitting (first to yourself) just how much you don’t know. That leaves space to discover your potentially rich and informationally hungry mind.

And Then There is the Ego

As Ryan Holiday writes, The ego is indeed the enemy. As long as our defensive and protective egos rule we will have little desire to admit our limitations. I recently read that the ego is highly resistant to change and is highly defensive. The ego lacks the capacity to admit not knowing.

And yet, the wise person is first to admit they have much to learn and to experience—the wonder of not knowing.

Admit Not Knowing

And Learn the Wonder of Curiosity

Photo courtesy of Deagreez at istockphoto

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