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The Tinkered Mind
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August 1st, 2020
There are a tremendous number of people with fantastic imaginations that don’t do much with that imagination. There are likewise incredibly determined people who don’t have much of an imagination. It doesn’t even warrant asking which of these two groups is generally more “successful” because the answer is so obvious.
Success is, of course, a sticky subjective topic. Many of those ‘determined’ people don’t seem to be living lives that are fulfilling, let alone happy. In that regard, it seems as though it might be a coin toss between the determined and the imaginative groups who is ‘happier’. It’s anyone’s guess, and at that point it really comes down to the individual person.
Certainly there must exist people in each category who are quite content: very determined people with little imaginative capability who are quite pleased with their moment to moment existence, and other people who are lost in their own delightful dreams, but going nowhere. There does exist an important subsection, where the Venn diagram of these two groups overlap and a powerful symbiosis occurs: where an individual is highly imaginative and very determined.
These people are the curious ones. We don’t necessarily equate curiosity with determination, but juxtapose for a moment a curious individual with someone who is simply imaginative. Surely there is a lot of overlap here, but curiosity as a word and a concept has a far greater degree of motion and momentum than the idea of being just merely imaginative.
The gift of curiosity is one where imagination and determination are no longer separate qualities. They work in lock step, one never advancing without pulling the other along in the path toward what might be discovered in the unknown.
In the realm of concepts that we tinker with in relation to our identity and behaviour, curiosity represents a particularly useful bull’s eye that incorporates and subsumes many qualities that we normally focus on with unproductive frustration. Consider for a moment questions that move many people to seek out self-help books:
How do I become motivated?
How do I become happier?
How do I come up with interesting ideas?
Why am I depressed?
These questions are all quite normal and pervasive. And they all exist on this conceptual dart board with curiosity at the center. Each of these questions, and many like them are fairly difficult to answer in isolation, which is what allows the self-help section of the bookstore to bloat and metastasize as though it were like a cancer choking off other sections, shrinking them, like organs shutting down. But progress can be achieved on all of these questions simultaneously, quite quickly and effectively by asking one simpler question. One that has many answers and no correct answer, one that opens the door to a new chapter of life. We need only explore:
What are you curious about?