When I think of relentless curiosity, I think of my kids. Relentless curiosity, they have taught me, involves the following three components: learning, creating, and connecting.
In the span of about ten minutes one day, my three-year-old son, Gabriel, asked the following:
"Daddy, why are these called pretzels?"
"Daddy, why do cars have trunks?"
"Daddy, who's the strongest superhero? Hulk? Spider-Man? Batman? What about Iron Man when he wears that special suit?"
Relentless curiosity motivates us to learn. My kids’ insatiable and innate thirst for knowledge, invites them to embrace new experiences, people, skills, and understandings. It emboldens them to press buttons on devices that lead to new discoveries, like how to make Siri sound Irish and what the format setting on a camera does. Pro-tip: the "format" setting on a camera will cause it to revert back to its factory settings. Their curiosity motivated them to ask my 96-year-old grandfather, "What's your favorite candy?" Thanks to them, he got Paydays for his birthday this year.
Relentless curiosity impels us to create. My kids create relentlessly: pictures, crafts, forts, food, music, dances, jokes, games, stories, noise, messes. I want to draw a car with a spoiler so it can go super fast. Can I make a card for grandma? Can we bake cookies? Can we build a castle? I wrote a poem. I made up a song. Check out this dance move. Listen to what I can play on the piano. Can I make a dress for my doll? I have a story to tell.
Relentless curiosity, because of its educative and creative characteristics, invites us to connect. The acts of learning and creating, my kids constantly remind me, are communal.
In pursuit of knowledge and understanding, my kids constantly ask questions. In turn, they constantly share what they’ve learned.
Similarly, they constantly invite others into their creative ideas. They also constantly share their musings and masterpieces.
Relentless curiosity drives learning and creativity, and both create connections.
When considering this disposition from our Catholic worldview, relentless curiosity leads to holiness. God gifted us with an intellect and a corresponding restlessness intended to lead us to an encounter with Him. Since God is in all things, everything and everyone bears His imprint. In the words of Gerard Manly Hopkins, "The world is charged with the grandeur of God." Therefore, when we learn about something or someone, we tap into this charge and we receive a spark of the divine.
That same divine spark is present in creating something. St. Pope Paul VI writes in Populorum Progressio:
Fashioned in the image of (our) Creator, "(we) must cooperate with Him in completing the work of creation and engraving on the earth the spiritual imprint which (we ourselves have) received." God gave (humans) intelligence, sensitivity and the power of thought—tools with which to finish and perfect the work He began. (Pope Paul VI, 1967, #27)
We know that relationships supply divine sparks, too. Because we are made in the image and likeness of our Triune God, relationships are pathways to holiness. Educative and creative efforts pave these paths. St. Pope Paul VI continues, "Further, when work is done in common—when hope, hardship, ambition and joy are shared—it brings together and firmly unites the wills, minds and hearts of (humans). In its accomplishment, (we) find (ourselves) to be brothers (and sisters)" (#27).
Our current realities present numerous opportunities to harness relentless curiosity. From navigating whatever new educational model your school has adopted to helping students process racial and political tensions, may your relentless curiosity abound.
With childlike wonder and excitement, keep carrying the divine spark of learning, creativity, and connection inside of you, and go out into the world to ignite that spark - the charge of God’s grandeur - in others.
Keep leading with relentless curiosity.
Reference:Paul VI. (1967). Populorum Progressio [Encyclical letter]. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_26031967_populorum.html