“Why is the sky blue?” was the most brilliant question I have heard in the past week. We see the sky everyday. We see its color. We take it for granted. Although we don’t know why it is blue, our mind does not register that as something for us to find out. We don’t ask that simple question of “Why is it blue?”
Yes, I am afraid it is true for quite a number of us. We have become so engrossed in the so-called complexity of life, trying to make ends meet, that we are now less curious of trivial things. We don’t see things with curious eyes.
This is somewhat a wasted talent. An untapped potential, as curiosity — with child-like zealousness — can open doors that we could not previously imagine.
I went to a TEDxJakarta event in April this year. One speaker of the event, Roni Pramaditia, is a prime example of how questions that emerge from honest curiosity could lead to surprising findings.
Roni went to Mount Putang, West Java, to release an animal called Owa Jawa. He looked at the surrounding and asked why there were so few animals in such a seemingly perfect environment.
He decided to follow the thread of his question(s). He went into the woods. He found a ruin of big buildings. He went around asking the local people and did a somewhat comprehensive desk and field studies.
He eventually found out that the building was a radio station built during the Dutch colonialism era, that had a direct link, to their motherland, the Netherlands, all the way in Europe. The radio station — in the midst of the West Java’s wilderness — allowed the Indonesia-based Dutch people to connect with their families back home. The lack of animals in that area was probably due to the electromagnetic signal caused by the radio station.
All these discoveries started with a simple question that just popped up in his head.
Come to think of it, actually, most, if not all, discoveries start with simple, curious questions. Goethe started with that question I posed earlier, “Why is the sky blue?” and he ended up writing the book “Farbenlehre (The Theory of Color)”.
Look at children and how they learn. All the questions that they and how they thrive to get the answers. Those glowing eyes when they come to a realization or discovery. How freeing. Priceless.
Now look at us. When was the last time we allow ourselves to be simply curious, ask spontaneous questions, and follow them through? Never mind you, I’d better ask it to myself: When was the last time I allow myself to be simply curious, ask spontaneous questions, and follow them through?