Fluent in Curiosity

It was an unusual day. I did several things I don’t normally do today: I visited a site of historical importance and I went on a podcast. I don’t do either of those things with any regularity, though I’ve done both before. That alone makes the day good, in my view.

Unusual things lead to new ideas. New connections between examples. New slivers of Venn diagrams overlapping with other unusual experiences you’ve had in the past.

Learning requires reinforcement. It requires some degree of repetition, and then integration with your life. If you want to learn a new language, you can’t just read every word in the vocabulary once and then bam, you’re fluent. You have to learn it, then use it, then refine it. You have to speak the language badly for a while. You have to put it into your life.

So how do you do that with things that aren’t cut-and-dry skills? If that’s how you teach yourself Spanish, how do you teach yourself curiosity? How do you teach yourself wonder?

It’s the same. First, you learn a little bit. You get curious about something and you examine what it’s like to be curious, to stand on the edge of not knowing. But then you have to use that curiosity; you have to put it into your life. You have to make curiosity lead to something else that you want, just as you try to get speaking Spanish to lead to being able to order the food you want or find la biblioteca.

Then you have to refine that, over and over. You make connections between the words for different things and the web of rules that connect them, and in the same way, you make connections between the times you were curious and how it led to what you want. You travel to a Spanish-speaking country so you’re forced to integrate into it. You join a club where you don’t know anything so you have to be curious to thrive.

It’s all the same methodology. It’s letting the thing live in you and change you in the direction you want.

So when I do unusual things, I am happy. They are buoyant, and I float on them. My world moves forward. I become more fluent in curiosity.

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