Approach The World With Pen In Hand
To keep curious, I have a pen in hand most of the time
If not in hand, then in a pocket. Rarely far.
It’s never been harder to be curious. I think it has something to do with how our brains are dealing with a fresh rewiring for the modern world, advertising, the endless scroll, and reading on screens.
Not to say you couldn’t let your curiosity thrive through these mediums - most online content is tied to some sort of financial gain. Someone is paying to show you something so they can yield an advertising benefit.
It used to be that we tried to not judge a book by it’s cover. We don’t even get to see the covers anymore. The library on my Kindle changes the covers of the books I’m reading all the time (to the point where I have a hard time finding things I had been reading). Netflix changes the title cards of the programming based on a secret profile they have on you.
Remember libraries? Racks of books, spine out, book marketers put a lot of thought into what those spines looked like and how they would be shelved and who they might appear next to, alphabetically. That’s just if you wanted to browse books. Looking for a topic in particular? Card catalogs - the original search engines - got you in the right direction.
Or, heaven forbid, you asked the librarian.
When everything has your attention all of the time, it is hard to go deep on much of anything. In an effort to keep curious, I have a pen in hand most of the time.
You could say, “I’m curious about X” and block off time in your schedule to look it up and read about it or watch a movie. Everything I read raises more questions - thus, then pen — a note in the margin or in the pocket notebook - just enough to go back to later.
Other times, something catches my eye or ear. A weird looking building or mural or something on the radio. Pen in hand to write down just enough so I can recall it later - the intersection, the name of the author in the interview, the time it all happened.
I’m going through a lot of little notebooks lately. I know if I try to put this all into my phone, it will get lost with all of the other digital notes. I’ll also probably stop and check my messages and then it’s all lost. Notebooks are safe and boring by comparison. I go through so many of them; I had to get a little case to keep them from going to hell in the wash.
Later, with great focus and a single window open and no ads or popups or distractions, that’s when the curiosities leave the notebooks and get all kinds of searching. Books get added to library lists. Things get saved and tagged and linked to.
What do I do with it? Marvel at the little library of curiosities, I suppose. It always manages to leak into my work later.