Curiosity has been my friend as long as I can remember. My mother gave me my first camera when I was just a young boy and it quickly landed in the basket on the front of my bicycle. The four of us (me, my bike, my camera, and my curiosity) set out to explore the world. Back then, my world was limited to the friendly confines of my small hometown in southern Indiana.
Now, nearly 60 years later, I find that curiosity is still a companion that rides along with me wherever I go. Last Sunday morning, I was enjoying an al fresco brunch with friends in the West Loop of Chicago. I happened to glance up from our table to see this family of three coming up the street. From the moment I spotted them, I realized my old friend, curiosity, was hanging out with each one of them. The little girl has spotted something in the alleyway, while her photographer father is engrossed by something in the doorway. Mom is oblivious to both of them and is mesmerized by something in the distance. The moment resonated so strongly with me that I couldn't resist dropping my fork and picking up my camera.
I've let curiosity interrupt me my entire life. Sometimes that works out well and sometimes it doesn't work out so well. Nonetheless, I will choose to allow curiosity to be my companion and here's why: I believe that curiosity is a gift; a gift that not everyone has, and therefore one that should be recognized and cherished. It keeps me young at heart. It keeps me looking. It keeps me dreaming. It keeps me living. It keeps me wondering. It keeps me searching. It reminds me I'm still that little boy with the camera in the basket of my bike.
Curiosity has impacted every aspect of my life. It has allowed me to enjoy my engineering career so much that I have no interest in retiring. Every new project is a curious journey to somewhere, and I get to be part of that journey. Curiosity led me to do something hardly anyone does anymore, and that is to read the Bible from the front cover to the back cover. It was an amazing journey that took me to places you can only go by daring to open the book. Curiosity has allowed me to have an incredible array of friends with every color of skin imaginable and from all around the world. Curiosity has allowed me to remain a little boy in an adult body, and that is making my relationship with my grandchildren a remarkable voyage.
I believe curious people live longer than those who lack that gift. I have no data to substantiate that belief, but I am convinced it is true. At the same time, I also believe that curiosity is a great companion with faith and makes the transition from this life to the next life one that isn't filled with dread, but instead, filled with anticipation and wonder.
Just like a cat, I have to make sure curiosity doesn't get me in trouble. To ignore that aspect of curiosity is a dangerous naivety, particularly for a photographer who enjoys documenting daily life on the streets. Over the years, I've noticed a simmering anger in many people I encounter and the fire seems to be getting hotter under the pot. This is unfortunate, but all in all, I still believe that there is far more good in the world than there is bad. Curiosity has enabled me to see that first hand, and my experiences are far different than the news you get on TV, social media, or in the newspaper.
So, if you ever see an old man on a bicycle, with a camera in the basket, a smile on his face, and his eyes wide open, that could be me, and my old friend, curiosity.