Devon Darley

I’d like to start my speech with a simple question. What makes us alive? I know it may sound quite grandiose and philosophical, but really, what is the magic spark that turns us from a bundle of organic compounds into a thinking, feeling, living person? Despite its simplicity, it's a question nearly all of humanity has pondered, and struggled to answer. There's a variety of explanations, from religion to biology and everything in between. But there's always been one aspect of this question that really interests me. Why do we care so much? To be frank, even if we do find the answer to it, how will that help us progress society? It's hardly going to prevent a world war or be the key to immortality. After who knows how long mulling over these thoughts, when I should perhaps have been studying for tests, I came to a consensus. We, as human beings, care about answering these grand questions because we are curious. Curious for knowledge, and curious to learn. 

In my own life, curiosity has been a driving force. Curiosity has served as a guiding light throughout my life, driving me to discover my own unique passions and interests, not the passions of others that have simply been passed down to me. With a genuine desire to learn everything about the world around me, I have dedicated the small number of years I have been fortunate enough to grace this Earth to building both breadth and depth of knowledge. While I may be starting University to study Molecular Biology, where I will hopefully help to discover new life-saving medical treatments, it is my curiosity that drives my insatiable hunger for knowledge. From theater to history to English to science, I really do love it all. That's the wonder of curiosity.

Curiosity is what helps us all discover what we love, what makes us tick as some might say. More so than that, I strongly believe that curiosity builds character. It allows one to have an open mind, to see situations from different perspectives, and helps us to learn from those around us. It builds an unmatched sense of intrinsic motivation, driving us to dig deeper and deeper into any topic we come across. It keeps us disciplined, as nothing, not even your favorite show on Netflix, can overcome a desire for deep knowledge. Curiosity makes us determined to find solutions to all the problems that we are faced with, both social and academic. It helps us to explore a wide range of different ideas and topics, which increases our ever-expanding wealth of knowledge. And, perhaps more importantly than anything I have mentioned on this list so far, curiosity fosters positivity. When you’re curious, everything can be viewed as a learning experience. While it may take some thought to find the silver lining of even the gloomiest of clouds, by treating life as a learning experience, we can get through any situation with a smile. 

There is truly nothing on this Earth quite like curiosity. What possibly could be better in life than deciphering solutions to the millions of yet unanswered questions.

I hope that by this point in my speech you’ve been able to think, just for a moment, about the initial question I posed; “what makes us alive”. To share my perspective, I think it is curiosity, or the drive to Iearn, understand everything about the world around us, and make society a better place for all, that sets apart the animate from the inanimate. Without curiosity, there would be no fire, no cooked food, no cars, no computers, no cell phones, no lightbulbs, no you name it. Not even this microphone! But keep in mind that behind each of these great inventions was an even more curious inventor, someone who found their obsession. As I’m sure all the greatest minds can attest to, there's nothing better than discovering your calling in life, and setting aside a little time each day to ponder the greatest mysteries of life. In the words of perhaps the greatest genius on Earth, Albert Einstein, “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day”.

 So no matter your age, no matter your background, no matter who you are or what you love, be curious, forge your own path, and discover, through curiosity, what it is that makes you truly alive. I dare you.