Unquenchable curiosity

If any of you are familiar with TED talks than you know how inspiring they can be. You also may know how one speaker can take you from feeling completely inspired to completely inadequate in the span of a few seconds. I experienced such a shift recently… during a 14 hour over-night trip from Georgia to Michigan. I’d like to tell you all about it. It won’t take 14 hours. I hope.

While my husband and father-in-law snoozed, something I don’t blame them for seeing as it was the 3:00 am-6:00 am shift of driving, I was keeping my brain charged by listening to the eloquent and encouraging TED Talks talkers. As per their catch phrase, they were dishing out ideas worth spreading and I was hanging on every word of every speaker, feeling more and more revved up with each talk. Then a speech by Ken Jennings came up and the aforementioned shift occurred. For those of you who don’t know {because I didn’t}, Ken Jennings is a trivia wiz who currently holds the record for longest winning streak on Jeopardy. Aka he’s a super-duper smarty pants, self-proclaimed nerd, and smarter than just about everyone you or I know…possibly combined. He’s so smart and so full of facts {much like Gretchen Wieners and high school gossip} that when the super-computer Watson was created, they called him to compete against it. He lost, and his TED Talk discusses the experience, among other things, but that’s not the focus of his blog.

In the early parts of his talk he discusses how his thirst for knowledge started at a very young age. Understandable, as kids we want to know and be involved in just about everything. Then he throws out a term that really stuck with me… unquenchable curiosity. Let it ruminate for a minute. Unquenchable curiosity.
He speaks of how this unquenchable curiosity has followed him his entire life. From the moment he had cognitive thought he was always eager to learn. Didn’t matter what kind of fact it was, he needed to make sure it was comfortably embedded in his cranium. So this got me thinking… I am one lazy son-of-a-gun when it comes to learning new things. I’m not talking about little tid bits of everyday learning but seriously diving into something new and developing a complete understanding of whatever it is. In other words, I wish I knew what unquenchable curiosity felt like.

In grade school… who am I kidding, in college too… I was {sadly} one of those students who learned a topic enough to pass the test but rarely made any real effort to retain the information. I used to think it was just because my main goal was to get the grade, which I always did, but now I think it may have more to do with a lack of that unquenchable curiosity. A lack of interest in what year such-and-such a war was fought. A lack of  need to know who whats-his-face was and how he/she impacted the world. A lack of unquenchable curiosity. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret how I {somehow} strategically selected the information that was worth ‘knowing’ for the long run but there are some things that I wish I’d held onto past Mr. Porter’s 8th grade history test, Senora Cox’s 11th grade Spanish final, and even Professor Jorgensen-Earp’s Comm Theory thesis. Instead I decided to dig my fingernails into the lessons of 5th grade chorus {the only way I will ever remember the 50 states and their capitals… in order of when they became states… I can sing it for you… choreography and all} , high school show choir, and of course, Dr. Mike’s lectures on Britney Spears, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Dr. Who. It seems to me that whenever my left brain should have been standing up demanding a little control, my right brain decided to serve up some whoop-ass and only absorb the creative “fun” stuff instead.

But I digress… regardless of what I have and have not learned in my {almost} 26 years on this fine sphere we call Earth, I’ve decided I want more. I want that unquenchable curiosity to take over and make it so I have no CHOICE but to learn this new thing, new fact,  or new piece of history. So, I’m challenging myself {and you} to tap that unquenchable curiosity on the shoulder and wake it up. It’s about time I starting making an effort to learn again. I declare that for the next year {eeep}, I will learn something new every month. I realize a month seems like enough to learn more than just one thing, but a month will allow a little extra time to encourage a deeper understanding of whatever I choose to dive into. Funny how these epiphanies don’t strike at a convenient time like, say, the beginning of the year so my OCD doesn’t have a mini meltdown at how uncomfortable it feels to begin a year-long quest in April. But I guess I can’t control everything, can I?

So whether it’s a collective history of the dates and location of wars around the world or finally mastering my times tables {math was never my friend}, I’m going to LEARN. I’m releasing that unquenchable curiosity and hoping it takes like a bull to a china shop, never ceasing, demanding more. I’ll most likely take advantage of this neglected little blog I have to share my newly-learned-awesomeness and would LOVE it if some of you joined me. I’m sure {I hope} I’m not the only one out there who could use a little cranium pumping. Share where your unquenchable curiosity takes you each month and maybe even find some new ideas from others who are on the same path! Let the learning begin!

*I really encourage you all to check out Ken’s TED talk {linked above}, and spend a little time listening to other speakers as well. They’re guaranteed to make you think!

** I’ll be keeping a running update on each new “thing” I’ve learned on Twitter using #UnquenchableCuriosity {original, right?}. If you decide to join me in my quest, I’d love to see what new things you are learning as well! Even if it’s something small and seemingly insignificant, like the “right way” to peel a banana, please share it! We may end up giving each other new ideas and adding a spark to an already BLAZING unquenchable curiosity!

2 thoughts on “Unquenchable curiosity

  1. This is absolutely amazing!!! Unquenchable curiosity!! Just recently, having a three month baby may have something to do with it, I started to think about how I would answer his every little question about every little thing… Which would just mean that I ought to know little about every thing… So yup… I’ll join you…. It would be good to actually give my kid an answer rather than saying” I’ll let you know in a bit” an running to google things!!!!

    • RIGHT?!? Thank you so much for your comment. I’ve been a little slack on actually FOCUSING on learning something new but I’ve been much more open to new things! Thanks for the support!

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