“What do you mean exploring?” Lacey asked Gus.
“Urban exploring. We enter abandoned buildings, explore them, photograph them. We take nothing; we leave nothing. We’re just observers.”
When I read this line in John Green’s bestselling novel, Paper Towns, I became aware that it had given me a sense of relief. There is so much in our world to see, even as observers, and to take in, and to discover. It is the curiosity of the unknown that takes us there.
It’s convenient and nearly natural to think that once we’ve seen the surface of something, that we know what is within it. To force yourself to question what may be beneath the surface means uncertainty. To let yourself wonder what could exist beyond what they eye can see means your entire perception of reality could be a false. Suddenly, you realize, the more you see the less you know. And that is scary. Because we like to have things figured out. We like to have everything in its proper place with its proper label that everyone can properly identify. And it makes sense – it’s safe, its content, its simple.
But for those out there that seek truth; for those that seek self-actualization, for those that need to know and understand: Well, you’re not even interested on what’s on the surface, unless it means having a better understanding of what lies beneath it.
Each year of my life, I get less and less interested in the surface of things, and more and more obsessed with the layers below them. For me, the world offers infinite ways to explore Life. At times, this even feels overwhelming. I often say I wish I could live 10 lives, and be aware of all 10 of them, so I have more time to explore more layers. My curiosity is relentless.
It’s important to note here, for those out there that are like me with their immense curiosity to understand and experience, that there is a difference between wandering aimlessly to discover and explore and wandering with intent. Aimless wandering is like a leaf blowing in the wind – it goes wherever the wind takes it, without needing to make any choices, or having any conscious path. You may end up in some incredible places, and there’s always a healthy dose of going where the wind takes you to be had in life, but ultimately, it can be very ungrounding. You can spend so much time obsessing over your immediate surroundings, that you don’t really end up anywhere. But when you wander with intent, you get to experience both ends of the spectrum – you get to feed your curiosity in the present moment, as well as be observant of it as you move forward to the parts of the path you see in the horizon. You get to build curiosity on curiosity. It is moves forward, rather than always being linear.