Have you felt the brain drain, yet? Do you feel a bit foggy? If your creative juices are drying on the synaptic vine, and you find it arduous to even concentrate on simple daily tasks, then, you’re not alone. In fact, I think there’s a whole lot of us who feel exactly the same.
On Saturday morning, I went to my usual taco place to wake up. Waking up is a process for me. Night owls don’t do that whole early bird thing, and let’s just say that my road to slumber tends to be equidistant to my morning commute to “Wakeville.” So, if you see me stuffing my face with tacos and slowly slurping on coffee in a semi-comatose fashion, please don’t take it personally if I don’t notice that you are there because my facial recognition circuits are still warming up, and I almost don’t know if I am even there. So, there I was … waking up in all of my faded glory, when suddenly I saw a tiny person staring at me. The toddler had an impish grin. I obliged the child with a smile and proceeded to put my AirPods in. Morning music does well to soothe this savage beast. Now, I thought my encounter with the tiny human had run its course. Nope, “tiny human” was staring me down with laser eyes, raised eyebrows, and a cheeky smirk. Off and on, I would make eye contact, exchange a smile or a chuckle … only to realize that the tiny human was studying me with an unquenchable curiosity.
Where does that curiosity go? As we get older and colder, our pretentious pragmatisms wax as the fire of our childlike curiosity wanes. I think Einstein was infinitely curious. Maybe it’s not just that he was born a genius so much as his perseverance in protecting his inner child provided the fertile soil for his mind to blossom fully. In fact, throw a dart at any mover and shaker, any renowned artist or scientist, and your projectile will strike the bullseye of endless curiosity. Curiosity is the portal into every new stage of personal growth, and according to Neil deGrasse Tyson, it’s the touchstone of a healthy education. Yet, it’s also important to note that our curiosity is being used against us. Let me explain.
Last week, as I was driving to work, a truck that was coming from the opposite direction started drifting all the way into my lane. At first, I thought the driver had fallen asleep at the wheel, but as the vehicle passed by, I could see the man was looking at his phone. He was curious … about whatever was on his phone. Maybe he was replying to a text. Maybe he was just checking his Instagram or Facebook. Whatever it was … it could wait. His curiosity had all the creative potential of becoming a head-on collision. As someone who has experienced the loss of a friend to a car accident linked to technological obsession, I can sincerely say … a person’s life is worth so much more than that glance downward.
Sadly, what remains of our infant curiosity is manipulated by tech companies and forged into the kind of addiction that yields the same results as drunk driving. Our digital obsessions drain our brains like distributaries from the river of our imaginations and empty into chasms of wasted time and fruitless fogginess. Oh, that we would learn to wean ourselves from these dark portals and learn to gaze upon each other through the toddler’s telescope of infinite light. Maybe then, we would value each other enough to not only keep our eyes on the road but to keep one another’s curiosities ablaze for greater glory.
PAUL MICHAEL JONES is an artist who currently dabbles in music, photography and creative writing.