An interesting life is not far away in exotic lands, nor is it going to happen next weekend. It’s right here, right now, waiting for us. It doesn’t require advanced degrees, or vast wealth, or even a lot of spare time. All it requires is an alert mind.
What is an interesting life? Well, first off, I think that when we are interested in things, or not interested in things, that reflects more on us than on the things. We don’t so much find interesting things as we find things interesting. An interesting life is not far away in exotic lands, nor is it going to happen next weekend. It’s right here, right now, waiting for us. It doesn’t require advanced degrees, or vast wealth, or even a lot of spare time. All it requires is an alert mind.
Life isn’t interesting in spite of our problems. Life is interesting because of our problems. Every problem that arises is an opportunity, not to scrape by and move on, but to find a more elegant answer than last time, and to make mental notes on how to do it better still next time.
What’s more interesting than finding our own answers is finding our own questions. That happens when we stop responding to other people’s priorities, and decide to act on our own. Few things in life are as an uninteresting as following orders. That makes us passive recipients of the world, as if we were watching our own life on a crappy TV show. Finding our own challenges to rise to, however, fills our world with very interesting possibilities, and reveals our potential.
What’s most interesting of all is finding a community to share your questions and your answers with. There never was a question so obscure that no one else would want to discuss it, nor a person so introverted they didn’t want to talk about the questions they’ve chosen or the answers they’re trying out. When we share our questions, we announce our intention to make the world a better place. When we share our answers, we do more than overcome a particular difficulty–we build trust, and perhaps even provide inspiration.
If you give me an answer to my question, you give me, and the whole community, the gift of the time you spent finding it. I can only repay that debt by investing my own time into answering a future question, which means my social and intellectual motivations dovetail nicely. Alternatively, you may challenge my question on its face, and prod me to rethink it. Either way, the respect and generosity we show each other through our shared interests can form a feedback loop of mutual support.
The major value in such a community, perhaps even a definition of community, is open conversation. After all, “community” and “communication” are closely connected. The antithesis of this conversation is secrecy, which is to say, artificial scarcity of information. Proprietary knowledge is no knowledge at all, and an affront to community, because it inhibits our learning. It should be seen as damage, and routed around. But, limitations to an interesting life are simply another problem to be solved. All it requires is an alert mind.