The jury is in! Curiosity is innocent. It did not kill the cat after all.

I’ve been a curious person for much of my life. I ask a lot of questions. And I like answers. It’s fun to figure things out. Even more fun when I’m right. So, what am I right about? It was seriosity, not curiosity, that did in our friend, the cat.

As it turns out, I think this has all been a massive conspiracy to keep people like you and me from questioning things. Maybe even a means of avoiding change. No, I’m not going political. And I’m not going to sing the praises of my millennial friends again—although I do love a millennial that defies the stereotype.

If you think about it for more than a minute, you don’t really even have to ask many questions. It’s right there—staring you in the face. It goes all the way back—probably even further back (or is it farther?)—than Curious George. He didn’t die, as the cat-warning prophesizes, but he was always getting into trouble for being curious. The man in the yellow hat was constantly scolding him for trying to have a little fun. I wonder… could the yellow hat signify cowardice? Fear of change? Or was the man simply trying to be fashion-forward at a time when yellow wasn’t a color of choice for men? I’m going with one of the first two. Or both.

Cards on the table. This piece has been on my mind for a while now. It bubbled its way to the surface a couple months ago when I had the good fortune of being in Sydney, Australia. One of the first things I noticed about our Aussie neighbors of the earth is that they are nowhere near as uptight as people over here in the U.S. They smile more. They seem less stressed. And the ones I met place a premium on spending quality time with the people they care about.

A quick search of Google (because that’s about the limit of my patience for research) tells me that in 2017 Australia is ranked #9 in the world for life expectancy. Where is the good old U.S. of A? The self-touted most advanced country in the world? We’re sitting at 45. We die almost a full 4 years sooner. Accident? I think not.

Why do you think this is? Part of it is that we lead the world in obesity, but in my opinion, a big chunk of it is that we take ourselves way too seriously. And I’m not just talking about the four-legged cats.

Far too many Americans are trolling the web looking for reasons to be offended. They spend their days stressed and angry about what they don’t have instead of appreciating all the people and things they do have. I imagine some of them will stumble upon this blog and find a way to make themselves believe I’ve wronged them by writing it.

As an aside, I also found Aussies very similar to Canadians. And you already know how much I love Canada. Where is Canada on the life expectancy list? Number 13, but I think they suffer by sharing a border with America. Anyway…

One of my closest friends often says that if you’re always looking for a problem, you’ll eventually find one. I’ve seen that play out far too many times. It makes me sad and it makes me wonder… what if we channel the creative energy we spend on inventing things to be offended by into celebrating things (and people) to be thankful for? What if we all stop trying so hard to be interesting and focus more on being interested? Even curious?

(NOTE: Shout out to my friend, Ursula Llabres for that “interesting-interested” line—she’s very clever).

I’m not trying to tell anyone that the world is all sunshine and roses. Let’s face it. The sun can burn you. Even blind you. And roses have thorns. But we don’t need to look directly into the sun to see the bright side. We just have to get our heads out of our collective… well, we need to look up once in a while. And get out of our own way.

Naked moment.

I haven’t always been the most positive person. The dark side has been my companion and co-pilot more often than I’d like to admit. And to be honest, it’s always lurking in the background. Letting it into my life or not is a daily choice I make. It isn’t always an easy one, and sometimes I still get it wrong. But I’ve learned to lean on the people who help me keep the darkness at bay. People who give me energy by having their ear on the receiving end of my voice. By letting me listen to what’s going on in their lives. By their jokes and their laughter. And many times, by simply sharing a smile. Okay, and maybe a drink. But the smile is just as important.

In my opinion, we need to stop being “moles and trolls” and start “filing things under H, for toy.” Yes, of course, that’s a movie reference. If you don’t know the movie, sample a bit of that curiosity and look it up. Then watch it. I promise it won’t kill you. You may even get a laugh or ten from it.

This got a little deeper than I intended, so let me close with a newsflash. Remember our friend, the cat? She’s still curious, but she’s alive and well. In fact, she met a dog who taught her how to laugh and have a little fun once in a while. They became buddies and got a place together. Dogs are cool that way.



  • michael marotta

    40 kilometers south of Canada and a little left of center

    Michael Marotta started making up stories before he started school in Lockport, New York (a.k.a., South Canada). He would sit for hours, imagining himself into his grandmother’s memories of growing up during The Great Depression and World War II. Fascinated by the people in those tales, he began to make up his own characters (and no small number of imaginary friends). He honed his craft in high school, often swapping wild stories for the answers he didn’t know to cover up the fact that he hadn’t studied. You’d be surprised at how many good grades he “earned” based on how complete his essays appeared!   Today, Michael’s the guy making up histories for people he sees at the airport, in restaurants and grocery stores, on the golf course, or simply hanging around in his hometown of Franklin, Tennessee. Most of the imaginary friends have moved on, but their spirits live in the characters and stories he creates—pieces of real people marbled with fabricated or exaggerated traits and a generous helping of Eighties pop culture.   Michael’s characters appeal to many people because they are the people we all know. They are our friends, our families and people we encounter every day. He writes for the love of writing and for the crazy old lady who raised him.