One of my socks has vanished without a trace. Again. No matter how careful I am transferring the dirty laundry from the hamper into the washing machine I always end up with fewer socks than I started with. It’s never shirts or trousers or handkerchiefs mind you, only socks. I’ve been doing a bit of research on this.
The six-year-old girl next door tells me the socks are being snaffled by a gang of garden gnomes who wear them as beanies on their heads. The young lad who does my lawn mowing blames the aliens. He reckons washing machines are actually teleporters to a far-off galaxy and abducting our socks is the first step for an impending alien invasion. Then there’s the eccentric lady who lives on the corner. She favours a more divine explanation where everything is part of HIS master plan. She’s got this idea that whenever we start to live the humdrum unexamined life God hits the pause button on his laptop momentarily suspending all universal laws and giving chaos and confusion free reign. Suddenly cockroaches flip onto their backs with their last gasp, shopping trolleys refuse to go where you want them to go, fluff appears in your belly button, computers crash inexplicably when you’re trying to meet deadlines, and, yes, socks disappear. She says it’s God’s way of reminding us how extraordinary our world is.
A plumber gave me the official version the other day. About rinsing cycles, balanced versus unbalanced loads, and warped agitators. Me, I much prefer the explanations to do with garden gnomes, teleporters, and divine intervention. It’s all about powering up the imagination and wrestling with a tantalizing mystery. Oh, and I still haven’t found those missing socks.
Curiosity is one of the most neglected, but readily available, keys to happiness. When we are curious about something we are fully alive in the present moment. We put all of our everyday worries and grand plans on the backburner and lock horns with a puzzle. Trying to solve the puzzle forces us to look in new directions and engage with the world in more meaningful ways. Every important discovery and advancement by mankind ultimately came about because someone’s curiosity fired up their imagination and they were rewarded with eureka moments of insight.
Plus, when you’re curious about your world, you can’t be bored. Whether you’re waiting for a doctor’s appointment, are stuck in a traffic jam, or are stranded inside on a rainy day, if you can reignite your childlike curiosity, you will never be bored. Ever. Just ask the question “Why?” and then let your imagination go to work.
What is something that captured your curiosity recently?
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(Selected comments will appear anonymously in my upcoming book The Happiness Challenge.)