Curiosity: from Latin curiosus “careful, diligent” akin to cura, “care”
I found it interesting to see the concept of “curiosity” defined as an emotion and not an instinct. After all, we’re clearly born with the capacity to be curious, as every newborn demonstrates. Instincts seem to be hard-wired, less flexible, more universal – fight or flight, protection of our young, perhaps even creativity is instinctual. Emotions, on the other hand, have so many outside influences at work with our temperament. Curiosity then, as an emotion, seems like something that can be developed or held in check. There are so many ways to be curious – engineers wonder how things work, psychologists wonder how people think and interact, scholars wonder how ideas can be expressed.
Scottish composer James Macmillan talks about the human impetus to be curious and the urgency we feel to encounter something new. As a composer he wonders how he can express his creative instinct in music, and hopes that one’s experience of new music is an expression of curiosity.
He put a new song in my mouth, so says Psalm 40. We are commanded to sing a new song in Psalms 33, 96, 98 and 149. A new song is offered to God in Psalm 144:9. Macmillan’s A New Song takes the listener into a place that is at once ancient and new:
The etymology of curious shows the word’s relationship to an Anglican term for an assisting priest, a curate. Someone who “cares” for souls presumably. If we take away curiosity in its negative forms – “morbid curiosity” and nosiness – we’re left with the idea of curiosity as a sign of caring and we might take that more to heart in our daily lives. Seeking out new songs in other people seems like a sure way to discover the gifts, joys and sorrows of the community around us.
Seeking out new songs in others! Yes. What a wonderful way to put it. Thanks. –Noell