Microadventure day 6: curiosity killed the cat

This post comes as the sixth in our Microadventure series found here. Those who have been with us on all our adventures so far, will realise that we’re looking to go away on both physical microadventures, but also mental and perhaps even spiritual ones too. Partly because adventure is not just a physical hobby, but something which embraces our whole humanity – some of the most intense experiences we have are not purely physical activities. And partly because I hope these can be for everyone, regardless of age, ability, culture, or whether you’re stuck indoors during isolation or not! I hope today’s #microadventure may help explain more.


I still remember the day our neighbour sprinted out of the house next door to me, yelling:

“STOP! STOP! STOP!”

This was not characteristic of the old man, who normally spoke beneath his breath, and I don’t think I’d ever seen run in my entire time of living there.

It wasn’t as if I was doing anything mad! Just getting into my car, like I did every other day of the year, and in fact, like I’d done only an hour before. What was his problem?!

“Don’t start the engine!” he cried, arriving beside my open door, and finding me one leg in, one leg out of the driver’s seat. He took an extra two steps over to the bonnet of the car and tapped it twice with the palm of his hand crying as he did so.

“Soooooooooty!”

I waited a few seconds to see what this dark magic was to produce.

Nothing.

“That’s fine now” he said, walking back to the open door he had sprinted out from, and disappearing without explanation.


It was only later that I found out from him over a cup of tea, that his last cat has sadly died, trapped while enjoying the warmth of a previously used car engine, when it had been started again, and had driven off with the startled cat still in the bonnet. Soon, frightened cat became fried cat.

And so I can imagine the phrase “curiosity killed the cat” might have some merit. Cats do sometimes have an intrigue that leads them into interesting situations. The fact that no-one seems to know where the phrase came from, and that it seems to actually have been something more like “worry killed the cat” to start with, may send us off in a different direction.

Photo: copyright my housemate – one of our local cats

Why on earth are we talking about cats and curiosity?

Why on earth are we talking about cats, curiosity and a random incident that wasn’t an incident at all? Well partly because seven cats have just walked past my window today – some several times. But moreso because of one thing I tell every microadventurer (and adventurer) to pack! When interviewed on the Christian Travelers’ Network, I was asked:

“What is the one thing that you always pack when you travel?”

To which I replied:

“Curiosity. And my old tennis ball – it’s travelled more miles than I ever have!”

Another cat photo from my housemate, because cats are cuter than tennis balls (even ones which travel the world)

Why curiosity?

Curiosity about the world, and about life is a spring-board to many things. It is infinite in its measure – one can be curious about anything in life. It means one can be alone, isolated in a room for months, but perhaps never get bored. It frees one from the virus of never being content with smaller things, by giving us a curiosity about lots of things in life – yet not just the major thrills of travelling far-flung destinations for the perfect ‘Insta pic’.

Yes, curiosity can still be a killer (for our cats, or even for us – if we invest it too heavily in the wrong places or things), but for me, it’s an essential ingredient to adventure, and leaves me happy with #microadventures, not feeling I’ve been robbed with the current circumstances, nor leaving me lacking desire to get out again to see the world.

When curiosity can’t be found

Sadly some days, I enter it rushed, consumed by the tasks I think I need to do, driving home from work listening to the same 10 latest pop songs played over and over again on the radio, and finding myself scrolling the evening away [on my phone], never investing my curiosity in anything deeply, and dulling my senses with a pint (or two), a Netflix episode (or four) or suitable other releases from the daily grind.

Sometimes curiosity is hard to find. All too evasive in a busy world, which rushes by seeking such purpose, yet never travelling slow enough to see it in any of the places it’s found, before distraction carries us off again.

Secular Curiosity

For my secular friends, some said to me their curiosity is motivated by their sense of awe at the world – how small they are in the world, and how much there is to marvel at, if we should stop and get a big picture. Perspective is everything. And getting distracted by religious narratives, for many of them, only takes away from the time we could be curious about more things, and helping others. In fact some religious narratives, they’d claim, take away from this awe-inspiring big picture of our small-ness within the universe, instead having us front and centre of the narrative.

Islamic Curiosity

For some of my Muslim friends, their passion to achieve eternal reward, is enough to make them keen to do well on this earth and for our humanity, regardless of what subject or field that may be in – thus generating curiosity about a wide variety of things. The Prophet (PBUH), Qu’ran and Hadiths helpfully sharpen their curiosity away from just general nice things, to what really matters in life – spiritual things, helping the least in society, and obedience to the way of Allah.

Where I find curiosity

For me, it’s been gradually found by meeting and experiencing the One who claims to have made all things. Because He has made such a diverse and wonderful world, and calls us to enjoy it, look after it and to develop it, I find myself gradually growing my interest outside of the small bubble that I grew up in. I find He gives me strength within to empower curiosity that serves.

Where I used to only care about my own hobbies, I find myself taking interest in other peoples’ hobbies. My poor mother, who had to endure endless chat about football, if she ever took me on a walk when I was younger! Now put me in a room with someone doing a PhD in molecular biology, a fan of Love Island (does that still exist on TV?) or other niche things, and I would at least attempt to delve into questions and interest, as much as my limited abilities allowed me to.

Where I used to only care about places of the world I had been to, or wanted to go to, now I find myself curious about all sorts of places – out of fascination for the world, though also because of the worldwide Church.

Where I would have otherwise given up on a friendship or getting to know someone, because of their wildly different opinions, lifestyle or otherwise, now I find I try to have a patience to shape my whole life deliberately alongside diverse others who are not like me, to walk a mile in their shoes (where appropriate) and to ask good questions.

A shared experience?

Quite a few of these things just grow in every human to some extent as we grow older. Yet some curiosity dies, as we grow older and reach a point we think we know everything, or certainly everything we desire to know at that moment (even if we would never say this). So much will need to be intentionally developed.

And so feel free to leave a comment below:

  1. How does your worldview allow for curiosity?
  2. And how does what you believe motivate you to act on this curiosity?

How does your worldview allow for curiosity?
And how does what you believe motivate you to act on this curiosity?

And if you’re not sure how what you think and believe affects how you act, why not start by reading something which helps you understand your own worldview more? I recommend a book used at the start of some university courses on philosophy, but it’s not too deep – don’t worry!

[It’s written by a professor who happens to be a Christian (and who is very open about that in the introduction), but I’ve never met anyone who thought that it is an unfair account of other worldviews – he is generous and doesn’t “straw-man” other beliefs. It can be found on the link below, or you can ask me to post a second hand copy to you, if you’re quick.]

https://ivpbooks.com/universe-next-door-5th-edition-pb

I hope as we #microadventure onwards together that curiosity will overflow from our pockets and our hearts. But delightfully, that despite its abundance, it won’t take up any luggage allowance at all for us, but will make for epic adventures ahead!

One thought on “Microadventure day 6: curiosity killed the cat

  1. Pingback: 30 Microadventures for 30 April days of lockdown | al-jabr

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