What does it take to be fascinated by the mundane?
Fascination is the catalyst for learning about anything. The more fascinated we are by something, the more attention we pay while exploring it.
The greatest thinkers – ones who operated from first principles such as Elon Musk and Richard Feynman did extraordinary things because they were fascinated by what most of us consider ordinary. This is why Feynman, dubbed the great explainer, was able to break down the most complex of scientific concepts and explain them to anybody.
And all of us had this sense of fascination as toddlers. A pile of sand, with its various colours and textures, is endlessly fascinating to a toddler, who will pick up some sand and spend hours watching it slip through his stubby fingers while trying to understand how it behaves. Toddlers bring this sense of fascination to every experience in their lives.
Neuroscience today tells us about how the first three years of our lives play the most definitive role on our subsequent lives. Every single day, a baby observes the world around her and forms hundreds of neural connections in her brain about how it works. While we can be life-long learners, we can never hope to have as much neural plasticity as we did as children. It is ironical that the period of our lives we remember the least end up shaping it to the largest extent.
To develop a fascination for the mundane, we ought to think back on what it felt like to be a child – or to observe babies and toddlers around us in search for inspiration to treat a pile of blocks, a pail of sand and a pot of water with the same wide-eyed wonder.
Inspiration: The Beginning of Life – documentary series