Sunday, July 19, 2009

Czeslaw Milosz on curiosity and lifelong learning

Truly, wherever one turns, there are...surprises everywhere, and the world appears to be a collection of a limitless quantity of details to be taken notice of.

The world is so organized that it is endlessly interesting; there is no limit to the discovery of ever newer layers and strata. It is like a journey through a maze which is pulsating, changing, growing as one moves through it. We make this journey by ourselves, but also as participants in the common undertaking of all humanity, with its myths, religions, philosophies, art, and the perfection of science. The curiosity which drives us cannot be sated and since it does not lessen with the passage of time, that is a sufficient argument against dying. Although, to be sure, many of us enter the gates of death immensely curious, expectant, eager to learn what it is like on the other side.

The opposite of curiosity is boredom, bull all opinions leading to the conclusion that nothing remains to be known, because there is nothing new under the sun, are false, dictated by boredom, or sickness.

Can you assure me, sir, that when we grow older, ever newer sights open up before us, as if around each bend in the road on a journey? I can. It seems as if everything is the same, yet different. Without a doubt, we do grow old; that is to say, our senses desert us, our hearing grows duller, our eyesight weakens. Yet our mind finds ways to balance these losses with an acuity that is inaccessible in our younger years. All the more so, then, does defeated old age deserve our sympathy, when the mind, following the senses, sinks into sleep.
Curiosity must be a powerful passion if so many people for thousands of years have tried to discover, touch, name, understand an elusive reality of "n" dimensions.

Czeslaw Milosz
--Milosz's ABCs