Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton asked why.”
Bernard Baruch, American financier and statesman
Who, what, when, where, why, and how. These are the six fundamental questions that journalists answer when they’re investigating a story. Five of the six are informational– they communicate facts which are more or less on the surface of things. The one that I think matters above all? Why.
Why is the gateway to wonder. Only children are totally unafraid to ask why. If you’ve ever met a five-year-old, you probably have experienced the moment when every explanation you offer about the world is countered with: “But why?” It can be a humbling experience when you can only answer two or three of those “but why?”s. Eventually, you come to the place where your own understanding fails, or you need a Tylenol.
Curiosity is a natural human impulse, and many would argue that all of our progress, all of our art, our religion, and most intimate relationships are derived from the simple question: “Why?” Einstein once said, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”
Pursuing your curiosity is a magnificent way to foster learning and self-improvement. Enlightenment follows curiosity, assuming you are persistent in your exploration. Joy also follows curiosity, especially when you are on the trail of a subject which captures your mind. Curiosity leads you to discover new connections, opportunities, and life lessons. Even though it may be the kids who are back in school, don’t let your own learning process fall slack.
Never let the feeling of “I don’t know” discourage you. In fact, it should inspire you. It means you are at the beginning of an opportunity for growth. I hope you are fortunate enough to explore the answer to a “why” soon.