If you’ve ever spent time with a toddler, you’ll know they ask “Why?” about seven thousand times a day. When my first son was about two or three, my husband and I called him the “Why Guy” because that was definitely his favourite word. And no matter what our answer was, he’d reply with yet another “Why?”
That drive to know why is one of the main attributes separating humans from other species, and it’s what we’re highlighting in this issue devoted to curiosity.
Every single amazing thing people have invented or figured out was driven by this one quality. (Same goes for all the terrible things we’ve invented and figured out. As a species, we’re both awesome and awful.)
Each of the pieces in this issue started with curiosity. Someone asked the question: “How can I fix this problem I see?” or “What can we do about x, y, or z?” or “Let’s see what happens if we take this path,” or even, “I wonder if it would be fun to try this.”
Couple that thought with action, and something grows: knowledge, a creation, a connection, an experience, or an event. Then some time—maybe years—later, a writer comes along and starts asking questions of their own.
We’ve all heard the maxim “There are no stupid questions.” Maybe more than most people, writers need to live by this maxim, because we’re almost never the experts on whatever we’re writing about. We’re tapping into someone else’s knowledge and passion in order to share it.
This is one of the best things about being a writer: we get to indulge our own curiosity with every story we write. We can ask all kinds of questions—smart, not-so-smart, random, and sometimes just plain nosy—and people give us answers! Every interview is a chance to learn something new and then pass it on to readers.
I’ve finally become comfortable admitting, “I don’t know what that means,” because then I get to say, “Tell me more.” Curiosity by itself can be laudable, but it has to come with a measure of humility: you can’t learn anything if you think you already know everything.
The best kind of curiosity comes with empathy and an open mind. I think it shines through in every one of this volume’s stories, and it’s this that we’re proud to be celebrating.