Just Call Me The Cat

Jacob - La Mesa, California
Entered on February 17, 2009
Age Group: Under 18

I believe in curiosity: wanting to know more just to know, wanting to learn more just to learn. The feeling of curiosity is an unique one, a tingling urge that shivers up the spine and makes the brain snap to attention. It is like a stimulant, that jolting taste in coffee that decaf can never quite get. Curiosity comes in many forms. Whether academic or social it does not matter, whenever something new and exciting is mentioned the ears grab onto it and the mind readily focuses. Anything and everything is sought after, in the hope that it will expand the mind.

When I hear the expression, “Curiosity killed the cat,” inquisitiveness strikes me. Where did this phrase come from? What was the cat pursuing in the name of curiosity? Was it worth it? And for the last question, there does appear to be an answer: “And satisfaction brought him back.” To me, this makes perfect sense, for the knowledge gained through curiosity is priceless. However, when I looked up the history of the expression, I learned that it was not until Eugene O’Neill that this latter part of the proverb came to be. Before that, the cat had died for his curiosity, end of story. This, as many know, came to be known as a deterrent to being curious and thus nosy. However, I believe many people never considered that maybe the cat had accepted the price of curiosity: death. Perhaps the secret he discovered gave him the peace of mind needed to resign himself to his fate. Or maybe he knew as he sought out the secret that the price would be death, but he continued anyways. I wonder if that cat was reborn in me.

Despite how we sometimes try to limit curiosity, it is a fundamental basis of life. An infant just born would get nowhere without curiosity. She would never discover the foundations of human life: being able to communicate, being able to traverse, and being able to interact with the world. Children would be bereft of the skills of life that would allow them to become adults, and life would cease to exist. Moreover, progress would not have occurred without curiosity. Everything from fire and the wheel to electricity and the steam engine is a product of curiosity, and without them we would lead a much different existence.

Curiosity for me is like the hunger that aches in my belly, or the fatigue that renders me incoherent; I must know more in order to survive. The expansion of my mind drives me forward to learn. I will risk peril to uncover more and discover as much as I can, and when I die, I will note—with satisfaction—that my curiosity was not left unattended, for my mind will be open and free. I will have the satisfaction that will give me life after death.