Wednesday, July 15, 2015

we are curious creatures

Pluto and Us

we are curious creatures
with the potential to see puzzles all around us
and to use questions as keys to riddle open these gifts,

we come to consciousness ignorant of what’s around us
and ignorant of language as a tool to find out,
as we learn to differentiate what’s before us
we can learn to see insects and acorns as treasures,
our grandson at that stage now,

curiosity is inherent in who we are
and drives us as scientists,
we can value revealed truth
even when it’s unexpected,
maybe particularly when it’s unexpected,
school, culture, hard knocks can dull our sharpness
and we can lose the drive to question:
to ask “why?” “how?” “what?” “when?”

these days too much of us can be myopic, narcissistic,
instead I celebrate the part of us that near a decade ago
sent the New Horizons spacecraft to visit Pluto,
the last planet in our solar system
to get such a questioning visit from us,
from a spacecraft traveling a million miles a day,
right now the signals from our cameras fly toward us,
taking 4.5 hours at light speed 
to cross a large gulf of 3 billion miles,

why should we care about Pluto?
why? because the primate primal in us
used that quizzical stance
to learn to start becoming more 
than cogs in evolution’s machine,
why? because the part of us worth our salt 
loves to learn we’re ignorant
because then we can learn,
why? because the two year old in us,
fascinated by a bug, now has potential tools 
to reach questions across the universe,

knowing about Pluto puts no food on the table,
however knowing about Pluto enlarges us
to know the universe, and thus ourselves, better,

we are curious creatures
and forget to ask questions at the peril of who we are 
if we are to be at our best.

by Henry H. Walker
July 14, ’15
Planet Earth
note: I use “planet” to name Pluto the way planetologists do, 
not “dwarf planet” the way the International Astronomical Union decreed.  

Czech the story.
image courtesy of Google Images

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