The first thing I recall being taught about curiosity was that it has a lethal effect on cats. No one bothered to explain it in pragmatic detail, and I don’t recall anyone ever actually producing a dead cat to validate the theory, but the lesson was clear. Curiosity was dangerous, and we shouldn’t adopt feline proclivities as a pattern for life. After all, look where “Catwoman” ended up—a grownup running around at night dressed up like a cat. How embarrassing. No wonder she wore a mask.
More Questions than Answers ~
In spite of the admonition against curiosity, Catwoman’s very existence cried out for answers. How far did this compulsive cat fetish go? Did she make little rumbling sounds in her throat when she was getting her hair done? Was personal hygiene reduced to licking her hands and rubbing them all over her face and ears? Could you take a laser pointer and make her go nuts trying to catch the little red dot? I never got answers, but at least my curiosity wasn’t terminal.
An incident during my early high school days that had nothing to do with cats gave further enlightenment about curiosity’s compelling nature. It began with an unintentional awareness of hair. Hair was a subject I had never found to be particularly fascinating, but there was a day when my interest in hair was unexpectedly altered.
A Curious Incident ~
It was just another bright fall afternoon being wasted in a boring freshman class in high school. I had one conscious desire, and that was for the bell to ring and set us free so I could get in a little hunting before dark. As my eyes drifted around the room in no particular direction, one of the girls came into focus, and for some reason, I couldn’t stop looking at her. She was sitting next to the window and the afternoon sunlight made her hair look like it was almost glowing. I knew it was just hair and that every other girl in class had some, but hers was suddenly, inexplicably hypnotic and irresistible. As I sat trapped and defenseless, disturbing questions began to parade through my head . . .
“Why have I not noticed her before?”
“What is about her that is suddenly so appealing?”
“Does her hair always look like that?”
“I don’t really even know her, so why am I thinking about talking to her?”
“What in the world would I say to her anyway?”
“Why does everything I think of saying to her sound so stupid?”
“Why did I wear this funky looking shirt?”
“Why would I think she’d ever want to talk to me anyway?”
“If I can imagine her being bald-headed, will everything feel normal again?”
“Why is this so hard?”
In case you’re wondering, no, I didn’t follow through and until today, had never told anyone about that mesmerizing afternoon. The episode came and went, but it left a valuable illustration in its wake. When the unique process among humans that evolves into what we customarily define as “love” begins, it comes loaded with more probing questions than obvious answers. The God in whom love originated designed it that way.
Love’s Endless Questions ~
No single idea or issue in the scope of man’s experience has generated more curiosity and more questions than the concept of love. What is it? Why does it exist? What does it mean? How do we define it? Can I trust it? How long will it last? If I offer it to someone, what if they don’t love me back? What does it include? What will I do if it dies? Does it feel the same for everybody, and is it a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience?
There are many curious things about love, but one of the most curious is its capacity for creating endless curiosity. Jesus Christ, God’s ultimate expression of what love means, was a living fountainhead of curiosity. Everything about His life drew interest like a magnet and elicited questions. Questions were one of His favorite teaching mechanisms, but He was much more prone to ask them than to directly answer them, and His strategy was purposeful.
It’s not accidental that love seems most exciting, and its attraction most powerful, at those points where curiosity and the questions that attend it are the most prominent. Love, whether human or divine, extends the challenge to “know” someone else, and that can open the door to adventures unparalleled by any other endeavor. Love invites us to go beyond the physical externals and explore the deepest recesses of our minds and hearts. It can lead to the most stimulating and fulfilling experiences available to human beings —and it’s tragic if we relegate its vibrant curiosity to the early stages alone.
An Untimely Death ~
If love’s most powerful moments are associated with the kind of compelling curiosity that elicits those deep, probing questions that captivate the heart, then love finds its life most threatened by that curiosity’s demise. Curiosity dies when the questions it lives on stop coming, and the questions stop the moment we think we already know everything that we want to know, or that can be known, about anyone. That’s where “love” begins to become a wooden thing with no more tantalizing secrets to reveal, and no more adventures to offer. That’s where relationships become little more than mummified replicas of what they once were — dried, empty shells, preserved only by boring rituals wrapped around what was once exciting and full of life and promise.
The Real Enemy ~
It isn’t extended exposure that kills love’s curiosity. It’s the arrogant assumption that we know it all. But even when it appears that love has died, there’s hope. If we set aside our pride and take another look, the God who brought love to life in the first place, can resurrect it. We were designed by our Creator with depth we can never fully explore and unlimited capacities for all of the qualities that make life the best it can be. It’s insulting to Him if we look at one another and think there’s nothing else to learn.
Even after spending years in a consuming quest to know the risen Christ, the Apostle Paul erupted in this passionate declaration, … Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! Romans 11:33 (NKJV)
Just Curious ~
With Valentine’s Day approaching, I wonder what would happen in all our love relationships if we set aside our “know it all” attitude and took a fresh look. Who knows what adventures might be waiting for us?
© 2018 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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