The phrase “Curiosity killed the cat” is not only strange, but just plain wrong. A healthy curiosity is what moves us forward to learn and explore, and once a person’s curiosity is gone, so is their zest for life.
I have been curious all of my life about far away places and how things are made and what secrets lie in the Oceans and the heavens, yet to be discovered by curious explorers. I wonder how prior inhabitants of our area lived and loved together in the harsh Minnesota winters, and how they may have admired the same beautiful sunrises and sunsets on our lake. I cannot pass an old building, overgrown with weeds and not be curious to know what happened there, and what is still inside to reveal its mysterious past. If I could explore abandoned buildings for fun without getting into trouble, I would. I don’t mean the large commercial towers downtown that the urban explorers climb around in and occasionally have to be rescued from. I mean the small sheds and barns in an abandoned farm, or our neighbor’s old, abandoned, long forgotten boathouse.
The old boathouse is less than a foot away from our property line and I will admit, I have taken a flashlight and looked in. The boathouse itself has had no care or repairs for at lease twenty, to maybe even thirty years or more. The sagging roof is covered in pine needles and the side boards are starting to deteriorate to the point where large gaps are appearing in the walls. It would take very little for this structure to catch fire or fall over. The front door is blocked by tree roots, and cast away items like an old rusty grill and a broken chair. A couple bought the lot about five years ago and rented out the old cabin on the site. When I inquired as to what was in the boathouse, I was told that they had not been in it since they bought the property, but had looked through the gaps in the siding and saw old fishing lures and lots of tools and what they referred to as junk.
My curiosity would never have allowed me to go five years without looking what is in the ancient boathouse for over five years. If I would have bought that property, I would have been looking around at the interesting things in that boathouse with my flashlight about an hour after closing. As I see it, I imagine it contains all kinds of treasures from the past, long forgotten and buried under piles of stored items needed for a life on the lake.
My curiosity was piqued even more when I inquired of our elderly neighbor about the history of the old boathouse. He grew up on the lake just a few doors down from where we live now, and his eyes lit up as he told about the prior owner, Mr. Peterson and his propensity for Rum and parties. He was evidently legendary for the epic parties he threw and also for falling asleep or possibly passing out outside and not even making it into the old cabin. Most interesting however was the neighbor’s clear recollection that a friend of Peterson’s had used old paint and had painted a picture of Minnehaha Falls on the inside wall of the boathouse. He remembered that the quality was quite good. I tried my best to see into the cracks with my flashlight more than once, but I cannot get a good look at all of the walls. Many of the walls are hidden by piled up stuff and things hanging on the walls. I did see a lot of old fishing lures and tools as they said, but even with the flash light it is too dark to make out what most of it is.
If only I could rip the front door open, I would be in there in a minute exploring for the owner. I told them about the alleged painting on the wall and it did not seem to make them any more interested to tear the door open and go exploring. I would love to assist, but unfortunately it is not my property to go exploring. They had renters at the property until lately, but now have decided to build a house on the lake lot. I cannot wait for their house to be finished so we can get to know them better and I can find out if the mysterious old painting still exists or if other treasure lay buried waiting for discovery. I am sure that once they live on the property they will have to pull back the creaky door and explore the old boathouse. I will be there ready to volunteer as tribute to help them.
The boathouse is not the only old structure in our area that piques my curiosity. It is fun to move to a new area as you discover new things. We have an old Hardware Hank store along highway 65, and even though I had been by there before, I had never noticed an old cemetery with the Swedish flag flying above it. It has a plaque and is clearly very old. Evidently the story is that it used to be the graveyard for an old fort located on the site long before the Hardware Hank. Clearly someone keeps it up, as the fencing around it and the lawn is meticulously groomed.
I cannot imagine not having my sense of curiosity for many different things. I have read books on history, paleontology, geology, ancient cultures, archeology, cooking and music. If I could I would have many college degrees in many different areas of study. I like watching TV shows on how things are made and get ideas for places to explore on the travel channel. I find everything from ghosts to stories of aliens interesting. I will never live long enough to experience every place I would like to travel to, and I will never live long enough to satisfy my curiosity, or I at least hope that is true.
Curiosity never killed the cat, but a lack of curiosity can kill a full life that is well lived. Without our drive to learn new and interesting things, without our drive to peak behind the curtain to see how things are done or are made, and without our curiosity to travel to meet new people and cultures and taste new foods, and without our curiosity to explore into the history of an old boathouse and the tails told by its old treasures long abandoned, we sit still with a lack of excitement and wonder for things we know nothing about, and we live a life without the luster of what our big, beautiful, mysterious world has to offer.