17 March 2010

Curiouser and Curiouser

Alice eats a cake and expects something peculiar to happen to her. After a while her neck grows so much that eventually she does not even see her own feet anymore. Alice is so surprised that for a moment she forgets to speak good English.
- Explanation of Alice's exclaiming, "Curiouser and curiouser!" in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.

As we grow older, we refine the contours of our reality and become more immersed. We become wiser not because we know more about life itself in the broadest most possible sense, but because we are more accustomed to patterns, can recognize and understand others and how they operate within our bubble, our proximity. As for things outside ourselves and habitats, our orientation is more problematic in that it is fluid and less predictable. The inner workings of life itself contain many a mystery woven into illustrious shapes. These shapes and ideas are so complicated that even the question "Why are we here?" becomes trite and hollow. But it's still the question, as we go through life searching for the tools to answer it.

During our brief appearance on earth, most of us will move from innocence to experience; the Romantics believed that after "experience" comes a sort of elevated or higher innocence. We are children, then adults, then humbled into a second childhood once we realize that we don't have everything figured out after all. Personally, I find this realization exciting. In his book/manifesto Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings, Rob Brezny argues that cynicism is lazy, as there are countless examples found in life of amazing, odd, troubling, wonderful, sad, thought-provoking things, big and small. To run out of things to be curious about is impossible, and if you find yourself bored, it's because you're either stubborn or oblivious.

And yet it's hard sometimes to remember that while we are engrossed in the microcasm of our habitat, within another microcasm of our personal lives, there's a bigger world out there, a universe, a multiverse, full of planets and stars and more galaxies than we can ever fathom. If life itself, in its magnitude, were a brain, we would truly only be exploring 10% of it, if that. (To be clear, the point I'm making here is based on a myth, but you get the point.) While I do believe human beings will continue to explore and discover, I do not think we will be able to answer every question; in fact, I know for certain there will always be questions we won't ever think to ask, let alone answer. Therefore, although the possibilities are endless, they are also, somewhat contradictorily, limited. I personally find much comfort in growing curiouser and curiouser: all of us will only continue to grow intimate with our little microcasms while we hopefully still wonder in awe at the mystery of it all, bewildered.

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