You see there’s no end to the things you might know, Depending how far beyond Zebra you go!
- Dr. Seuss, On Beyond Zebra
This year has given me a lot of time to think about what I want to be when I grow up. I just closed out 2016's fourth half-baked Google Doc outlining attempts at my personal Ten Commandments, Virtues, and Bill of Human Rights, all attempts to document my vision for my future in the footprints of important documents. These documents turned into searches themselves, not answers.
I closed the fourth doc because I found one word that said it all: wonder. I think that’s really all I’ve been searching for. It sounds pretty stupid but that’s really the core nugget of all of this thinking about creativity, respect, freedom, and confidence really amounts to.
When I was in college I spent a good bit of time helping out with education-related projects without actually recognizing the pattern. Once I started applying to grad schools and looking into what to do next I realized that teaching (and learning) was a common thread in how I liked to spend my time, and embarked down that path which quickly altered my trajectory. More recently, my students at the Iron Yard have been the source of my latest round of discoveries and I finally realized that what I love about education is teaching (and learning) to wonder.
To me, wonder is a constant state of curiosity + surprise.
I believe that curiosity is the single most useful tool an individual can possess for self-growth. Recognizing questions and then seeking answers is how we learn, and if we make a habit of being curious we can actually spend a good bit of time doing this.
The importance of surprise has, well, surprised me. Surprise, to me, is both the cause and reward for curiosity. I encounter the best questions, unsurprisingly, when I’m thinking or doing things that I don’t understand very well (see every episode of my podcast). Similarly, I love being surprised by an answer to a question or the fact that I can actually do something new semi-successfully. This also means that answers often kick off other questions, and we get a virtuous cycle. Winning.
So to my current and future students, friends, family, and fellow humans: my best piece of advice is to wonder without limits. Don’t convince yourself that someone else will figure it out, or that it’s not your job to know it. Growing isn’t work; it’s living.