Lounging in a hot bath after an intense day of mental and physical exertion, my face barely above water, a sequence of thoughts occurred to me. Truthfully, there was not much else to do but listen to sweat drip from my nose into the water. A quiet place, a quiet moment to think, and relax.
"Mmmm," I thought, "I'm really relaxed."
"I should do this more often," was followed several slow moments later by, "I'm really lucky...to have this water. To have this...peace. Not many people on earth are as fortunate. If I was a primate in the wild, I would never have this opportunity."
2.5 million years of evolution, and my ancestors give me a heated bathtub? Peek beneath the bubbles. Giggle. Along with the bath, of course, comes something quite new to Homo sapiens.
Absence of fear.
No lions in the undergrowth. No leopard in the trees. No crocodile under the water. No bear in the cave. Oh, they're still there, but our electric campfire has pushed back those predators. We can safely ignore them. Medicine pushes back the invisible predators. Religion pretends to push back the biggest predator.
We hate fear.
But we're evolved to live with fear. Uncertainty is the mildest form of fear. Uncertainty is the pause between the stimulus and the response — the pause between the growl in the darkness and the decision to flee or fight. Fear's gift to us is our central nervous system, and our ability to think.
Our adaptation to fear is curiosity.
Curiosity is the term we use to describe the process of exploring uncertainty. Curiosity extends the pause between the growl in the darkness and the need to make a decision.
Through curiosity, our ability to learn, we turn predator into prey.