In the film The Theory of Everything, the life of the monumentally important physicist Stephen Hawking was portrayed. The movie showed his gradual deterioration due to his ALS, and it was inspiring to see how he overcame incredibly difficult circumstances and revolutionized the world of science. What I want to talk about today is what makes him such a great man and what pushed him to reach great heights regardless of his debilitating disease. If there was one word I could attribute to his success it would be this: curiosity.
He was an infinitely curious person. You would have to be in order to seek a theory that describes everything in the universe. He challenged much of the conventional wisdom in the scientific community. At times he was scoffed at and told that his theories were merely pipe dreams, but later on the movie shows that his ideas proved to be the new model to follow scientifically. I am not going to even attempt to go into detail as far as the science is concerned. The main thing I want to emphasize is how curiosity can propel one to mountainous heights. All of the great thinkers in history were extremely curious people. They looked at the world as it was, and pondered on what could possibly be done to change the world and people’s perception of it. Every invention, from things such as the light bulb, the automobile, the airplane, and many others, were products of curiosity and imagination.
What I see in the world today is a lack of curiosity in many people, and I find this to be a great tragedy. Many people are simply moving through time, going through the motions, and keeping busy or entertaining themselves. I call this way of thinking and living “The Theory Of Nothing.” We go through our formal education, and then once it is complete, the learning stops forever. This is why I have some problems with the way our education system operates. As children we were extremely curious, and more than willing to learn. Take a look at a child when it is intrigued and fascinated by something its unfamiliar with; See how their eyes light up with passion, excitement, and interest. Then take a look at an adult who is just going through the motions; Their eyes are devoid of passion, excitement, and interest. Somewhere along the line things got confused.
The word education comes from the latin “educe”, which means “to draw out”. It seems as if our so called education system is doing the exact opposite. It is based on the assumption that children aren’t naturally intelligent and that they need to be taught by a force feeding of information, through a rigid set of guidelines and tedious tasks, in order to learn. I believe that the only thing that is needed is an environment that is conducive to learning and the children will flourish on their own. Why are the teachers talking more than the students? I feel that the majority of class time should be devoted to questions and dialogue between peers. Of course certain things need to be taught under guidelines; technical subjects like math and grammar. Aside from that, however, should be a much more open ended approach to learning. These kids are way way way smarter than we give them credit for.
Our education system beats the curiosity out of our children. It turns learning into a tiresome chore. By the time most of us reach adulthood we are so tired of learning, and we are ready to adopt “The Theory of Nothing”. We go to work during the day, usually doing something that is minimally engaging for most of us, and then we go home and plop our butts on the couch and watch tv for hours. We don’t ponder how to improve the quality of our lives. We don’t look up to the sky and fathom the infinite vastness of the universe. We don’t do much of anything really. The masses of men and women lead lives of quiet desperation, which then turns to resignation.
My challenge to you is to get back the curiosity that was stolen from you in your childhood. Read books. I think I will mention books in one way or another until im blue in the face. Try something that you’ve previously thought about doing, like learning a new language or playing the guitar. Meditate. Get into a state of DEEP thinking about your life and what it means to you. Do all of the things you want to do in life so that you have no regrets. Use google. It annoys me when people act as if they can’t find the answer to basically any question with a click of a button.
The masses who lead lives of quiet desperation will weep and scream in the last minutes of their life. It may sound like I’m over-exaggerating, but think about it. Begin with the end in mind. Explore your mind and seek out ways to be innovative with your life. Use your curiosity to fuel your train on the track of destiny.