This is my essay titled “The Gift of Curiosity” that was published on the website for “This I Believe: A Public Dialogue About Belief — One Essay At a Time.” Go to http://thisibelieve.org/essay/134229/ to see my essay and read others.
I believe in curiosity. When I was twelve, my parents and I travelled to Avebury, an ancient stone circle nestled into the rolling hills of England. A cool breeze blew as I wandered from stone to stone, around the wide, grassy field. I paused, and running my hand across one of the narrow boulders, felt the toll of time in its surface, the stone worn by thousands of years in the rain and snow. The boulders stretched into the distance, their irregular shapes growing smaller and smaller, retreating into the blue sky like the years they have stood there have receded into the past. I looked at the tall mound of earth, known as the henge, which surrounded the stone circle. A wide trench separated the henge from where I stood, but I soon noticed a narrow path, worn into the chalky earth, that wound down one steep slope and up the other. With a glimpse at the henge and at the trees behind it, I flew down the path, my coat flying out behind me like a pair of wings.
Curiosity leads each of us down different paths: the scientist, who looks through microscopes and telescopes to figure out the mysteries of our existence; the historian, who brings the past to life so that it may shine light on the present; the reader and moviegoer who want to know what happens next. Each day, each year, others’ curiosity gives me the gifts of literature, art, of technology and science. These, the fruits of others’ questions, add to the wonder of life and shed light on my world. That light kindles a spark of curiosity within me, a spark that guides me through each day, giving me courage and passion — the desire to learn, to see, to find, to understand.
I believe that with time, Avebury has gained a purpose, a purpose that will endure for as long as the stones exist: Avebury gives the gift of curiosity. Nobody knows why the stones of Avebury are there, what their original role was – we can only wonder. The moment I reached the top of the henge and turned around to see the stones of Avebury laid out before me in a wide circle, I knew the magnificence of curiosity. I ran up the path onto the henge because I was curious what I would find on the other side: I found a new perspective, a spark of curiosity. Curiosity has allowed me to form an identity, an understanding, of my place in the universe. I believe in curiosity, that it should be nurtured and celebrated, and above all, that we can all find curiosity somewhere.