I Miss Wondering

“For this feeling of wonder shows that you are a philosopher, since wonder is the only beginning of philosophy.” - Plato

3 min. read

Earlier tonight, I turned the burner on high and while I was waiting for my rice to come to a full boil I had a thought: “I wonder if rice cooked in beer would be good.”

A few years ago, I would have likely wondered that for quite a while. It may have been on my mind while I ate my boring water-based rice. It may have popped into my mind tomorrow, or the next day, when I next saw rice or beer. Visions of beer-based rice recipes might have danced in my belly. I may have wondered about it for a week (or ten) before I finally giving in, cooking it, and exiting Wonderland for Knowville.

But none of that happened, because Google.

Before the water (boring) in the pot began boiling I already knew if “beer rice” was a thing, what it would taste like (delicious), exactly how to make it, and what types of recipes it would be good in (ALL OF THEM).

This is a recent phenomenon that I’m not sure I’m comfortable with. It goes far beyond magical ways to cook rice. Earlier today I was wondering how long it would take to walk from Austin to San Francisco. This is a question my phone was able to answer in a few seconds (23.6 days of non-stop walking). Don’t get me wrong: it’s fantastic that I’m able to figure that out so quickly, because now I know that my idea for a project this summer is a bit less conceivable than I guessed. It’s great to know things sometimes. But it’s also nice to not know.

When you don’t know something, your mind wanders a bit and you might end up in a new space, or with a new thought, that you wouldn’t have had if you knew. Knowing can be dangerous, too, because while we might think we know something, and act on that knowledge, we rarely know anything. Only the Sith deal in absolutes.

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And yes, I know that I can choose to not look something up, and let myself wonder a bit about it before I know, but that’s not the same. If the answer is right there at my finger tips, wondering feels insincere. I spent a great deal of my childhood wondering, but if I was able to google “Has anyone figured out if humans are able to hibernate like grizzly bears?” I would have. And then I would have been bummed. Because the answer is no. This is our future: we can look up anything that’s ever been known in a matter of seconds, but we don’t have flying cars and we have to stay awake all winter.

I love being able to learn as much as we’re able to learn on the internet. I love love Wikipedia. But I also love the idea of not knowing, sometimes. And I miss that.

I miss wondering.