Interesting people differ from each other is so many ways. In fact, one of the things that makes a person interesting is how little like others they are. Those who embrace their unique weirdness, not in a flashy attempt for attention but as a secure mode of being, tend to be very interesting. Still, I don’t think it’s the truly unique qualities about interesting people that make them interesting. It’s something they all have in common. They are interested.
An interesting writer, artist, entrepreneur, academic, or cook is someone who has not only mastered a craft, but someone deeply, intensely interested in their craft. The mastery typically follows the interest. What’s more, interesting people are not only interested in what they do and what they have mastered. They’re interested in just about everything in the world. They aren’t afraid to be in awe of the world around them, from the big philosophical questions to the tiny details.
I used to do fundraising for a nonprofit and my favorite part was meetings with incredibly successful, self-made people who almost always began as average people, and somehow built amazing companies and products and lives. I’d ask their stories and soak up all the details of their founding saga, how they got into that industry, why they chose to live where they did, and so on. What stuck out was that, happy as they were to discuss these things, most of them were equally excited to talk about a style of painting they were fond of, the aerodynamics of aircraft, logo design, and in one case the habits of ants. These were interesting people because they were interested people.
A friend recently shared an anecdote he once read (I can’t remember where) about a young boy who told his grandfather that he was bored. Calmly, his grandfather rolled up a magazine, leaned over, and whacked the boy on the head. “Bored people grow up to become boring people.” With no TV or laptop or iPhone or books or friends around, would you be bored? Or could you find a way to engage the world around and within you no matter where you were and what tools you had? Those who have mastered the art of the latter are never boring.
We’re surrounded by wonders, great and small, easy to spot and almost impossible to find. Can you sense it? Do you feel it? Do you have questions about it? As Chesterton said, we don’t lack wonders, we lack wonder.