Curious? Or Restless?

I remember when cable TV first came to our neighborhood. I remember the buttons on the brown ‘remote’ control connected to the cable box by a wire. The new cable arrived with 36 channels. It seemed like so many back then.

Now, we have tens of millions of TV channels. This number will eventually climb to hundreds of millions. Anybody on earth can have their own TV show. All you need is a smartphone (almost 4 billion people have one today).

The information out there is limitless and hyper-accessible. We’ve never been more informed or entertained.

Yet still, it sometimes seems as if we are more lost than ever.

By nature, humans are curious and restless. So we scurry around seeking a new experience, truth, or cause to fight for. Some get weary of it all and withdraw into isolation.     

Remember when Henry David Thoreau retreated to his cabin on Walden Pond? He ate wild apples, hoed beans, fished, and hunted. He lived a simple life.

Thoreau said:

Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail […] Instead of three meals a day, if it be necessary eat but one; instead of a hundred dishes, five; and reduce other things in proportion.

What would Henry have to say about the 50 million TV channels we have today? In Walden, Thoreau stressed independence and simplicity. Wonderful things to strive for, yet they seem to forever escape us. 

Still, isn’t the clutter in the world only a reflection of what we experience on the inside?

We are a whirring, scattered mess of experiences and emotions. Even the simplest man will toss and turn some nights.

But what are we restless for?

Or better said, who are we restless for?

We might say, I just want to be happy or I just want some peace, but these sayings really don’t do anything.

So what will grip me enough to soothe my curiosity and restlessness once and for all? How often do I say, I’m fine, but I’m not really? Is there a single soul on earth without trials or worries?

Even if I live in the woods with Thoreau, what if the beans don’t come up, the fish don’t bite, and the apples are full of worms?

I think we find the answer in honesty.

No, I’m not all fine, thank you. I’m not fine with the suffering. I’m not fine with the powerful plundering the innocent. I’m not fine with the hypocrisy and cruelty that invade our world. I’m not fine with losing my freedom when it makes no sense. I’m not fine with all the hurt I’ve caused or the hurt that has come my way. 

But I am fine with family. I am fine with dignified work, nature’s bounty, and a warm bed to sleep in. I am fine when I see kindness and courage in a neighbor helping a neighbor.  I am fine when someone truly listens to me. I am fine when I find the strength to face new challenges. I am fine with forgiveness and love. 

Could it be that our relentless curiosity and restlessness come from the deep hurt we feel inside? But it’s more than just seeking escape, since curiosity leads to discovery and joy.

So where is our greatest rest? Where do we find our most profound joy? In these deep yearnings, we are driven to seek the answer.

Who put that desire in my heart? Why do I yearn for profound peace and expansive joy?

Where else would I find these things if not in God? Meanwhile, he lets me freely roam his creation seeking the answer, seeking him.

As Augustine said, “our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” 

So return to simplicity. Work from the inside out. If you look inside for simplicity, that’s where you’ll find the answer.

If you are at peace on the inside, then you won’t be tempted to find rest in exterior things. And don’t be startled by the chaos that sometimes rages within you.

Let it all unwind in a safe, spacious place. In the grace of the Lord, the City of God, waiting for the New Jerusalem.

And even when you’re shattered, he puts the pieces back together again. Jesus fully understands what hurts you. Christ brings you to the fullness of joy.  

I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
    with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

On my bed I remember you;
    I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

Psalm 63:5-8

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