And that’s a lack of curiosity about the world: Where things are, why things work, how things began, and where things are going.
The only thing I can’t forgive is ineptness.
My friend, Bob years ago once told me that the only thing he couldn’t forgive was ingratitude. I’ve thought long and hard about that and I’ve since concluded that ingratitude – be it from pride, thoughtlessness, or ignorance – is one of those fuck me once, shame on you; fuck me twice, shame on me, type of situations.
Bob back then had a adoptive family (through her second marriage) and those two kids had some serious expectations of the gimme, gimme, gimme variety but don’t expect any type of thanks kind of results. So I can seriously appreciate his perspective here.
I am pretty pragmatic when it comes to giving. And I don’t care if it is my own flesh and blood – if I put my ass on the line for you or pony up some some serious cash (via something like a car, an education, etc.) – and you’re not thankful then as far as I’m concerned, from there on out, you’re on your own. I’ll forgive you but don’t expect me to revisit my generosity on your behalf anytime soon.
On a moral level, I’ve come to believe that gratefulness is one of the most precious coins of payback.
But I am getting off track. I wanted to talk about curiosity.
My father’s mother probably never ventured more than 100 miles from the place she was born and she lived to be 90. To be honest, she was intellectually underpowered so I can more or less understand her and people like her.
And I can accept those people who have inbuilt cultural restrictions like some of my neighbors here. I moved six blocks away from my old neighborhood and I rarely if ever see any of them. I’ve since concluded that some of them have an operational radius of maybe five blocks. The Mercado. The church. And their immediate neighbors and family. That’s about it and I am totally okay with that. In fact I’ve come to admire those people in a way. I spell it contentment.
At my daughter’s wedding a few weeks back I had the misfortune to come in contact with some of my ex-in-laws and one of the big takeaways of those experiences was how hopelessly out of touch they were with reality. Forget the fact that I asked them numerous questions about themselves and their lives yet not a single one asked me a single question about me or my life. Not a single question. But that could have been jealousy. Who knows?
But what I truly found mystifying was just how narrow in scope their lives have been all these years. They’ve kept the same addresses, the same jobs (more or less) and taken the same infrequent and repetitive vacations to Florida. Oh, and two trips to California.
Of my two ex-brother-in-law’s four children, only two have managed to escape the same mediocre orbit of their parents; one of them through a premature death. He always was a borderline idiot so except for his parents, I reckon he’s all been but forgotten.
I am not trying to shame anybody here, but facts are facts.
I positively despair for those in the world – especially the young – who somehow by reason of owning a smartphone think they are technically literate.
Curiosity by my way of thinking is all about asking questions. The broader the subject spectrum, the longer the list of questions, the greater your curiosity quotient.
I believe that Stephen Hawking is still alive in spite of his infirmities because of his insatiable curiosity. He once said, “My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”
Winston Churchill was overweight, drank like a fish, and smoked thousands and thousands of cigars yet lived to be 90. I suspect he lived to such an old age because he remained actively engaged in some aspect of learning his entire life.
I have discovered at the age of 61 that if I’m not reading, writing, traveling or somehow occupied by learning or doing something new then I literally become sick with anxiety.
Yeah, that’s over the top, but I am trying to control it. And so as scary as it might sound, my anxiety is driven from inertia. External forces as a general rule don’t drive me crazy. I drive myself crazy.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t wish the whole learning/anxiety conundrum on anybody. But I would appreciate if a few more people out there were asking more questions.