Curiosity is a gift. I’m not sure when I realized this, but as I look back to my younger self, I see a kid who wanted to learn stuff. Not everything of course, but things that caught my imagination. Things I read in books—rock and fossils and the first dino eggs ever found. The national parks we toured on our family road trips, thanks to my dad who drove us across most of the country and far into Canada.
We made a lot of visits to the Field Museum in Chicago, where at age five I acquired a fear of volcanos after I viewed a diorama of one all glowing and orange. Then on to my grandparents’ homes on the Mississippi River and in drought-struck North Dakota…to hear the stories of the “Olden Days.”
When we got bored, we didn’t have screens to look at, but we did have books; my mom once scolded me to “take your nose out of that book and look at the scenery!” (This when I was reading James Bond as we drove through a beautiful canyon in Wyoming.)
No surprise that the best gift I got for Christmas in sixth grade was a set of dark red Compton’s Encyclopedia. Mind you, I didn’t read all the way through the 25 books, but I took in a big chunk of them …
Curiosity led me to writing books about famous folks who once were your age.
Many of my subjects were writers and readers:
- Isaac Newton, the scientist who formulated the laws of motion and of light
- President Theodore Roosevelt
- Elizabeth Tudor, the queen of England whose father, King Henry VIII, had six wives…
- All of the suffragists who worked to gain the vote for American women.
There are many more:
- Women war reporters, including Martha Raddatz of ABC News
- Young people who fought in World War I, including Ernest Hemingway, Harry Truman, and a wild cowboy pilot named Fred Libby.
- Scores of archaeologists, anthropologists, historians, and scientists who actually dig into our past.
As I investigated, I discovered these women and men stayed true to themselves. At just about your age, they developed what we call self-awareness. They began to realize what caught their attention—what lit a little fire of curiosity and excitement inside themselves. When they grew up, that little spark inside them often led them to their life’s work.
I bet there are special things that really grab your imagination, too. In fact, take a pencil and paper and write them down and put them away—or pop a note onto your phone in a spot you won’t delete. Then mark it to be opened four years from now. You might be surprised that what excited you then has only begun to grow!
Hmmm…wonder about this: In four years’ time, how will you have changed? AND, how will you have stayed the same?