Happiness is derived through curiosity-driven learning
By Andrew Baisley
I often vividly remember my childhood days. Now, things in my day-to-day life ignite a memory of a simpler, more curious and adventurous time. A time that was nothing more than a boy, a pair of boots, a dog, a stick shaped like a gun and an endless playground I now know as nature.
When I became an adolescent, my learning was dominated by books, lesson plans and homework. I learned the things the “system” thought I should know and not what captivated or piqued my curiosity. And so, I marched on through life. Happiness is derived through curiosity driven learning and is often replaced with a more artificial form.
As we reach our peak physicality, it is often what matters most to us. To put our physicality to pushing our physical limits. Enter adrenaline; a hormone we find ourselves chasing at this stage of life, providing euphoric feelings of happiness. Chasing Bighorn rams in the tallest peaks of the Rocky Mountains and laying in sage brush baking in the heat of the sun for a chance at an antelope. They all provided just that. When enough thrills are experienced, fewer options remain to provide a more heightened experience. A feeling of boredom, monotony, and perhaps even sadness creeps in.
In a twist of fate, a friend gets a dog reminiscent of a hunting dog once seen in a magazine article. Though this particular dog is not destined to be a hunting dog, it forms the catalyst for a future in motion. A memory ignited about the joyous times of following that old farm dog all across the countryside, from dawn to dusk. A team of two, moving through the landscape, interacting, learning, and creating memories.
With my 8-week-old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon now home and wandering the back pasture, the adventure begins once again. Now, by the handler taking his dog out to discover the pup’s natural world, an obligation I feel I owe the pup. This obligation to the pup slowly morphs into a mutual education - handler showing dog the things he’s learned since he was a boy, and the dog teaching the handler perhaps more profound lessons, too complicated to contextualize here. The happiness now has purpose, to watch the quarry we chase interact in nature and the dogs we pit against them.
Oddly, what was old is new again. Old adventures are repurposed, old haunts re-visited with new objective and perspective. Chasing sheep in the mountains is replaced with breathing heavily climbing after ptarmagin. Antelope hunting is replaced with relentless frustration of every giggling flush of sharptails.
So here I am again, in a new but strangely familiar place… A man, a much larger pair of boots, a dog, and a shotgun replacing the childhood stick, on a journey for adventure, yet again.