Are you curious?

AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike Some rights reserved by Reeding Lessons

Curiosity and I have a long history.

I remember rushing through my schoolwork in the fourth grade so that I could run to the back of the room and pick at random a tattered volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica to read at my desk. With respect to the teachers who labored there, the mid-seventies public school system in Louisiana should have supplied every student with the same course material. It would have better served the 2011 adult - because from medicine to economics to clean water, the challenges today are greater than ever.

Despite what seems like the overwhelming complexity of it all, I'm an optimist. In its seeming torpor, science continues to chunk the big problems. Spacecraft can sample the atmosphere and contribute data to a better understanding of climate change. Sophisticated media makes data visualization possible - entire economies can be displayed and unexpected connections made. A genre of serious games make hard issues more accessible to our experience-loving selves. As designer Jane McGonigal memorably said, why use games to escape reality when they can be used to improve it?

Solving more puzzles in a day than I ever did at their age, my children intuitively get that. Mysteries genuinely excite them. That's good.

Come to the IdeaFestival in September and you'll hear from people of all kinds doing all kinds of interesting things. It's a place where perspective matters, not in a deferential, cloying, politically correct way, but because different perspectives contribute to a genuinely better outcomes. All we need to do is move beyond reductive and too-simple "either-or" statements when confronting complex issues and get a bit more comfortable with "this too."

Miraculously, in our three pounds of gelatinous wetware we can gaze into the infinite and feel it's gaze in return. After 13.7 billion years, our bodies code for it all. So when I compromise with eternity, I'm not denying its majesty, just reveling in the understanding - paraphrasing Mark Twain - that eternity was here first. I just came along in time to sow my questions.

If you're curious too, I'd love to meet you at the IdeaFestival.