What would life be like — if —? Curiosity may have taken all nine of the cat's lives, but it fulfilled them also! There is something divine about curiosity, something that puts the shams of life to flight and seeks out the (perhaps painful) new truth. It takes a lot of courage, sometimes, to be the least bit curious about the dark and misty alleys of our world. There is the Old Boogey Man in the shadows, waiting to nab the timid inquirer and carry him off to the den of the Horrid Truth! Beware of him! He will get you, and take away your dearest illusions; he will strip you down to bare despair, and laugh at you; he will teach you that you are not so nice as you thought you were!
But what of the shaky, breathless joy that follows right after tears, when we realize that now we know, and we will know forever the deeper reality, the deeper and more sound truth of one more aspect of this huge and marvellous celebration, Life? What of that? What of the solemn and triumphant genie who rises up in our hearts, and shines like the Sun, and sounds like a song, to tell us we have won another battle?
Such are the fruits of curiosity, really honest curiosity, such is the great heritage of all evolving beings!
It is not enough to seek once, or twice, not enough to ask only occasionally. "What is it that is?" It is not enough to form a daily habit of asking ourselves certain selfsame questions, to which we come to have some very slick answers. We must ask always new and harder questions, more "dangerous" questions, we might say. We must go further and further in the knowledge of the what and the why, particularly, of the lives of those around us. We must know our neighbor's life, not in the sense of knowing in a gossipy way all of his comings and goings — Heaven forbid! — but in learning to sense more and more keenly the delicate, the quiet something within him which is his real nature. Such things are not for talk, not for conversation, but belong to the holiest of holies in all the starry universe. That course of action holds some dangers for us, grave ones, and many a cat has lost some lives in it, but it is eminently worth while, as the finest education one could acquire.
No less is it important for us to inquire into ourselves; though, as important as the old saying, "Man, know thyself," may be, it is not good to inquire and inquire only into one's self, without any reference to others. That was never meant to be an injunction to the aspirant to encase himself in self-interest, and enshroud himself with selfish indifference. Our human situation is no such matter, as we all deeply know. There have been many stories written about the loneliness of the tomb, many poems written about the largeness of the world and the smallness of the blinded little creature.
Must we fear something? Must we fear death, or God, or the Devil — must we fear something, to come to the point of honesty with ourselves? Without curiosity, yes, without the positive interest, yes; assuredly, if we wait to be driven to school, we shall learn in sorrow and fear. Tears, sobs, mournful cries — are these the only accents of spoken truth? Without curiosity, yes: without the courage to ask, the bravery necessary to go and seek, yes.
Are we cozy, are the skies cloudless, are the flowers especially fragrant today? What is that haunting something that lurks behind the bright eyes of the perfect days? What is that tempting something, that, in the stories we heard in childhood, called the gypsies "over the hills and far away" by the very beauty and peace of nature? Perhaps it is the gypsies" taste for calamity which makes them relish life so much — and which makes some of them so wise. Perhaps not, but their very moving is a questioning of life, their very wandering is a learning process. Perhaps they grow hungry and sick and tired, but their life surely must be rich and full!
Let us try life; let us touch the keys, if we would hear tones, draw the bow over the strings, if we would hear the fine clear vibration! Let us make such music as will reach to mountain peaks and skies beyond, let our music be a plea for music — because to ask is to answer, and to answer is to ask.
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