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Understanding Our Desire to Explore and Invent

shutterstock_164724497Recently we’ve been chatting (via blog posts at least) about a number of, well, less “naturally desirable” character traits and where they might have come from.

And why.

And how.

And what (if anything) we can do to get them to go away.

The other morning I was snoozing as usual. The night before I had watched a Netflix special about the link between Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens.

Needless to say, after a night of dreaming myself back in the jungle, quite hairy, covered in mosquitos and wielding a spear held together with tree resin “pitch glue,” I was in full-on contemplation mode about the intersection of evolution with invention.

The next night, I watched a special on Yellowstone National Park called “Battle for Life.” The special featured pronghorn – a type of mammal similar to the antelope – and how they evolved to become the fastest land mammals out of a desire to evade a now-instinct type of cheetah.

And it hit me. 

All life forms are hard-wired to evolve. We – human homo sapiens – are no different. In other words, just because we are at the tippy top of the current food chain doesn’t mean our drive towards evolution just stops.

The fact is, we no longer need to evolve to outrun cheetahs (thank goodness) or even outwit earlier versions of ourselves.

But that drive to explore, to discover, to push the boundaries, to invent, to re-invent, is still there.

So what do we do with it?

We invent – cures for cancer, rockets to Mars, new methods to repel mosquitos (all of which still need quite a lot of work, IMO).

We evolve – not so much in our DNA but in our lifestyles.

We desire and stalk upgrades – for our furniture, our technology, our bodies, our minds.

We compete with each other within our own exclusive societal groups for “top dog” social status – because the “leader” gets to mate with the ladies and spawn future generations bearing our own personal blend of DNA.

No wonder desire, invention, and their by-products can quickly become such a slippery slope.

It has become ever more difficult to discern where the very reasonable quest towards survival ends and simple “desire for desire’s sake” (as my mentor often terms it) begins.

We do face off against incurable diseases, the occasional rural “oops” that results in close encounters of the fanged kind, angry neighbors, budget cuts, divorce, and the inevitable approach of our own death.

But in between we are more empowered than any species here on Earth has ever been…or likely ever will be.

So we invent.

We channel our evolutionary energies into making our mark and then leaving it behind in (hopefully) indelible form…..both keen to outgrow our present day selves and yet never be forgotten.

Today’s Takeaway: Do you ever contemplate your own evolution? Do you wonder sometimes if you are becoming a better version of “you” right in front of your very eyes? Do you sometimes ponder how you would know if you were evolving – or would you have to wait several generations to see how your DNA changes for future generations? Sooooo interesting!

Neanderthal image available from Shutterstock.

Understanding Our Desire to Explore and Invent

Shannon Cutts

Freelance writer. Author. Cockatiel, redfoot tortoise & box turtle mama.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2014). Understanding Our Desire to Explore and Invent. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 30, 2020, from


Last updated: 4 Sep 2014
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