The Life Force of Curiosity & Imagination

Do you ever wonder what flies dream of? 

Chinese poet Ho Chi-Fang wondered about this and imagined they dream of “watermelon rinds in summer.”

What about dogs? I wonder…

Of not forgetting the places in which they buried their bones.

Cats?

Of the exact number of flips needed to land, feet-first after free-falling from tall buildings.

I imagine mosquitoes dream with sweet blood. The elephant with a giant handkerchief. Long neckties are the dreams of the giraffe. 

Birds dream of corks for shotguns. Fish with towels. The owl with doubt. Dictionaries with indefinition. 

The serpent? 

With feet. 

Bicycle tires must have nightmares scattered with sharp thumbtacks. Lions dream of barbershops on the African savannah. Snow-white dreams belong to crows. 

Were they not extinct, Dinosaurs would only dream of giant, hardy umbrellas. 

The precise order of prayers is the dream of the Mantis.

The moon must dream of potions to clear her acne. The kite dreams of a giant scissor that will give it back its freedom. The scissor dreams of becoming paper to vanquish the rock. 

And rocks?

Rocks don’t dream, I think. 

Curiosity, dear boy, sparks imagination which makes you creative, and creativity leads to all sorts of adventures.

It led Tiktaalik out of the ocean to walk on land and begin the age of reptiles, followed by mammals. Had it not been for his curiosity, you wouldn’t be reading this because you and I, along with our fellow humans, wouldn’t exist.

Curiosity plunged Tunk into a cave to become the world’s first creative artist.

It made Amira discover agriculture.

It helped William connect windmills with dynamos.

Curiosity is the Life Force of the Wizard and the Wild Boy.

Albert Einstein, the genius who said he had no special talent but was only passionately curious, defined creativity as “combinatory play” during which we combine two or more ideas that seem disconnected, but when put together, result in a whole new concept.

At age 15, Louis Braille used the same sharp tool that made him blind at age five to punch-out the six-dot system which now allows 285 million visually-impaired people to read.

It took someone more than 1000 years to combine luggage with wheels, but we're all relieved for his creativity.

In 1735, a man whose last name is shared by the Wizard Merlin, had the brilliant idea to combine shoes with wheels to give the world the first roller skates.

A sense of play is a defining human characteristic which we share with one of our closest primate cousins - the Bonobos. Playful curiosity drives us to explore and adapt, and in our modern world, so full of challenges, we will need to play much more than we do now to come up with novel solutions.

Curiosity is a magic carpet woven with questions like What ifI wonderIf only

I wonder why an apple falls down from a tree instead of up was the question that led 23 year old Isaac Newton to develop his famous law of gravitation in 1687.

What if man could visit the moon? wondered French novelist Jules Verne when writing “From the Earth to the Moon” in 1865, a century before the first lunar landing.

If only men could fly… must have been on Leonardo da Vinci’s mind when he designed the world’s first helicopter and hang-glider more than 500 years ago.

Curiosity is the life force of dreamers who imagine a world where everything is possible, like a world without bullies, or one in which no child goes to bed hungry, oceans without plastic waste, or world peace. It puts our head in the clouds and our feet floating above ground and doesn’t accept limitations.

To those who say “It can’t be done,” or “It’s never been done before,” curiosity and imagination reply: Watch us!

But curiosity must be nurtured. It’s like a delicate plant which must be watered constantly and grows best under the light of playful imagination. Like William, you must always be hungry to learn how things work and always wondering if there might be a better way to do something, like installing wheels on luggage. Curiosity and creativity do not bloom if you are constantly distracted, and will die if you feed it with cynicism… that bitter and deadly poison mostly coming out of the mouths of grownups in the form of scoffs, sarcasm, and negativity.

To see why it’s so important for you to never stop feeding your curiosity and imagination, I’ll tell you about a famous study.

In the late 1960s, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), asked two leading researchers to come up with a test to measure the creative potential of NASA’s rocket scientists and engineers. The test focused on measuring something called “divergent thinking,” which is the ability to look at a particular problem and come up with multiple solutions.  

The test worked out so well that the researchers decided to try it on children. They tested more than a thousand 5-year-olds and discovered something astonishing.

Out of the 1600 kids who took the test, 98% scored at genius level!

The researchers wondered if creativity was something we lose as we age, especially if not exercised constantly, like a muscle, so they tested the same group of kids five years later. By then, aged 10, only one third, or one out of three, scored at genius level.

When tested again at age 15, only 200 of the 1600 scored at genius level.

The researchers then decided to test adults and found that less than 2% scored at genius level.

Aren’t you glad I caught you in time?

Curiosity and Imagination will bloom if constantly exercised, but for them to bear fruit, they must be followed by Grit.

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Next Life Force: Grit  

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