Certain members of my family give me endless grief for starting way too many sentences with “I wonder…”

    And I get it. The quest for knowledge–aside from sounding like an Indiana Jones knockoff movie–is a phrase that may not turn your crank at first glance, but here’s the truth:

    It can send you on all kinds of escapades, practical and frivolous, exciting and thought-provoking, significant and trivial, physical and intellectual, fun-loving and life-changing.

    And who can resist an adventure that might begin with something as simple as thinking, “Yeah, I just want to know…”

    Not long ago, Ben and I decided that since we were sleeping on a 25-year old mattress, (yes, really), it might be time to get a new one. And since we’d inherited our old one, we needed to know about the positively dizzying array of choices at our disposal.

    As it turned out, we also learned a lot about tacky sales techniques.

    We spent several months bouncing from store to store, hearing sales pitches about different kinds of springs, double-sided mattresses (it’ll last longer if you can flip it) and one-sided mattresses (if the mattress is made well, it won’t sag in the middle and won’t need to be flipped). The first salesman started out as Guy Smiley (“Heyyyyy! How you folks doing tonight?”).

    He was very helpful, letting us lie around on all manner of beds. At the end of his sales pitch, though, he tried to pressure us into buying a mattress right then and there. When we asked for a quote, he balked. “I can’t do that,” he said. Then I watched the claws come out, and saw a side of Ben he doesn’t show to just anybody.

    “We’re not buying tonight, just looking,” he said, to which Guy Smiley turned on us, and said, “What have I got to do to make a sale tonight?” to which Ben said, “You’re not gonna make a sale tonight. What we need is a quote. That’s it.” To which Guy said, “Well, my boss isn’t gonna like it, but I’ll see what I can do.” Puff. Blow. Sigh.

    We walked back to the office, and sat in front of him while he made a phone call.

    As he was talking, Ben and I decided there was probably nobody on the other line…

    Anyway, he came up with a number. When Ben asked, “Does that include the tax, the pillows we talked about?” Guy whined, “Nooo. What do you WANT from me?”

    To which Ben replied, “I WANT to know what number to put on a check in order to walk out of here with a mattress and pillows and a bed frame.”

    Finally, we just walked out. And when I told Ben, “I am never going back there again,” he looked surprised. “Why not?”

    “Are you kidding? That guy was awful to deal with.”

    “Really? I didn’t think he was that bad. I deal with people like that for a living.”

    I decided to go back to the place on my own, when Guy was in absentia.

    This time, I came upon an uber-cheerful young man who was most eager to help.

    “So,” I asked, pointing to the mattress we had been interested in, “at the store across the street, they tell me that a double sided mattress will last longer than one like this. Why would I want a single-sided mattress?

    “Oh, he said, “you’re an older lady. You don’t want to be flippin’ your mattress around. You might hurt yourself.”

    After a quick look behind me to make sure he wasn’t talking to someone else, I decided to forgive him for that hideous remark, and continue with the interrogation by asking him, “So how long is this one likely to last?”

    “Well, that depends on what you do on it,” he said. Sly little grin. Twinkle in his twentysomething eye. “Now I’m a young guy, so it might not last as long for me as it would for you.” Wink. Wink.

    “Oh puh-leeese,” I thought, but I figured my old, withered self could play along.

    “Well,” I said, “you’re probably right. We spend a fair amount of time swinging from the chandelier, so it doesn’t get all that much wear and tear.”

    The horrified look on his face was worth listening to the sales pitch.

    And with the knowledge I gained in that little foray into the world of bedding, we bought the mattress of our (literal) dreams…somewhere else.

    So what about you?

    I’ll bet you find yourself wanting to know all kinds of stuff all kinds of the time, but maybe right this minute your mind is a blank sheet of paper.

    If so, try paying attention for the next couple of weeks. Make a note of every time you find yourself wanting to know something, big or small.

    Like maybe…

    How can a person go dogsledding with no snow? (With wheels. Like this.)

    What’s it like to be weightless?

    How does it feel to go skydiving?

    What does it take to play in a band?

    What’s Beer Church all about?

    What’s it like to work on a dude ranch?

    How do those guys on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” DO that?

    What happens on a silent retreat?

    How could I survive in the wilderness without food and water?

    Could I really backpack across Europe at my age?

    How do I teach my child to be kind?

    How can I know God better?

    How effective is speed dating?

    What’s it take to be a bodybuilder?

    How can I avoid looking like an idiot on the dance floor?

    Who are my ancestors?

    How could I pursue a career as the Chick-Fil-A cow? (Easy. Like this.)

    How can I best help my friend [who has cancer, who’s going through a divorce]?

    What do women really want?

    What do men really want?

    How can I meet [Judge Judy, the cast of The Big Bang Theory]?

    What’s in my food?

    Does prayer really change anything?

    How can I be a contestant on [Jeopardy, The Bachelor]?

    What should I know before I get a tattoo?

    Undoubtedly, over the next couple weeks you’ll surprise yourself with your own inquisitiveness.

    So choose an “I wonder” of your own and think through the possibilities. It’s quite conceivable that just a mental exploration will lead you somewhere more significant than a reconnaissance mission into Mattress Country. (Although a great mattress is a beautiful thing, and could have a ripple effect of changing the history of the world.)

    Then when you take action, I can almost guarantee you this: your search for knowledge will end up turning your crank in a most adventurous way.

    Wink, wink, indeed.


    Want more where this came from? Check out the very first post (Your Epic Adventure Starts Here), where you’ll learn about starting a yearlong (52 questions) quest to practice living a life of adventure. As a bonus, you will also find the backstory for that ridiculous herd of buffalo on the header photo of this website…


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