Taking It In

The other day I went to visit a friend and, because I had arrived a little early, I wandered into the backyard just to have a look-see. There is nothing special about the yard: grass, a few bushes, a couple of trees in neighbors’ yards. But wherever my eyes roamed, I noticed something I had not noticed before. And as I continued to do this, I realized that no matter how much I did it, there would always be something new to see.

            This gave me an insight into people I’ve noticed all my life who seem to be content simply to sit and watch. I am used to having a book in my hand or a computer monitor in front of me or the like if I am not otherwise engaged in a task that requires my attention. It was a mystery to me how those people could not be bored stiff. 

            But now I understand. The opening lines of Aristotle’s Metaphysics capture it: 

ALL men by nature desire to know. An indication of this is the delight we take in our senses; for even apart from their usefulness they are loved for themselves; and above all others the sense of sight. For not only with a view to action, but even when we are not going to do anything, we prefer seeing (one might say) to everything else. The reason is that this, most of all the senses, makes us know and brings to light many differences between things. (Translated by W. D. Ross) 

 I would spin it like this: If you supply the curiosity, the world will never fail you.


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