My life has just changed forever, because by the time this story is printed, I’ll be holed up in a small room across the street — A delivery room on the 4rd floor of the McKay-Dee Hospital — awaiting of the birth of my first child, a son.
One of the milestones in child-development (so I’m told) is Baby’s first word. Most parents jokingly argue whether it will be “Mom,” “Dad,” or like my three-year-old niece, “Fart.” Whether it is his first or not, there is one word I want to hear more than any other: “Why?”
There is a common scene played out in family-rooms across the planet:
Daddy, How come I have ears? So you can hear things, like speech or music. Why? Because they are important parts of communication. WHY? Because that’s how our brains work. WHY?
Which 10 minutes later, usually ends with:
BECAUSE THAT’S HOW SUB-ATOMIC PARTICLES INTERACT WITH EACH OTHER!
There is something about childhood curiosity that is magical — something that many of us lose during those teen years because “now we know everything.” Why do frogs jump? Why is fire hot? Why is the sky blue? Why are rolly-polly bugs so funny? It’s not something that is forced, but an innate tendency to question and understand the world around them.
I get goosebumps daydreaming about one night in the future, when my kid will ask, “Dad, what’s up there in the sky?” And after all those years of patiently waiting for his little synapses to connect and his curiosity and wonder at the world to grow, I finally get to point up to the night sky and say:
That’s outer space, and those dots up there are stars, suns like ours. And lots of those suns have planets around them, just like our planet. And see that big ball up there? That’s called the Moon. People have been there. And that little red one over there? People are going there soon. Maybe you could go there. What do you think?
Some people never lose that fire. A few weeks ago, magicians landed a giant robot on the surface of another planet, after traveling 350 million miles from earth. It cost 2.5 billion dollars, and took 3000 people to build. And all that to answer a child’s question: Are we alone in the universe?
I got those same goosebumps during a physics class in Lind Lecture Hall. The professor had dressed up as Isaac Newton and performed one of Newton’s famous experiments for the class. We were treated to a journey back in time, and got a glimpse of real discovery. It’s a feeling you can get in classrooms across campus, if you’re looking.
William Shakespeare conjectured that Music is the food of Love. I’d like to conjecture that Curiosity is the food of Adventure.
During this school-year, Weber State University will transform, if you let it, into an incubator of learning, of questioning, and of curiosity — your own personal Hogwarts. So, don’t forget to let your inner three-year old ask “Why?”