There is a local jewelry designer named Andrea Waines who is known for hand stamping inspirational quotes onto small prisms of sterling silver.
These small bars are unobtrusive, simple and quiet to look at; one must look carefully to read the print embedded in the metal.
I stumbled across one of these necklaces recently. The message branded modestly along the slim surface was: "Wisdom begins in wonder."
The phrase struck me for more than one reason. First of all, one doesn't come across the word "wisdom" very often. It has a somewhat archaic, philosophical connotation that makes it appear inaccessible to a lot of young people.
Secondly, wonder is a state that's often associated with temporary childhood innocence and naivety; a curiosity that springs from a place of mystified ignorance that often fades as people grow up.
But somehow, in that moment, I saw a depth and beauty in the phrase that I didn't brush off as cliché or trite.
My first interpretation was that people absorb information better when they're interested in the topic. For instance, the small details mentioned in a conversation with our friend sometimes stick far better than the content our history teacher stressed over and over again.
Phrased another way, curiosity leads to intelligence. If we're learning because we want to and not because there's a test next week, the process is so much more effortless and natural.
But Socrates' words reach deeper than that.
No one can force us to wonder. No one can force us, or teach us to care about a topic we're not interested in. It has to be something that comes from - as cheesy as it sounds - within.
Granted, it's a tough thing to talk about with the presence of the smartphone and the Internet.
As information and tools become more and more accessible, we are allowed to become more and more passive.
We are never curious for long any more because it takes less than a minute to look something up online. From food, to geography, to books, to people... any answer we could possible need is ready and waiting.
According to the dictionary, to wonder means "to be filled with admiration, amazement, and awe" or "to think or speculate curiously."
That's powerful stuff. Wisdom begins in wonder. So in school (during those classes that may seem irrelevant), or at home as your younger siblings tell you for the hundredth time the story about "that time..." maybe it's not a matter of forcing yourself to listen and respond, maybe it's simply finding a reason to be curious... a reason to be filled with admiration, amazement and awe.
Socrates lived a long time ago, but his quote is as relevant today as it ever was.
Anna Toth is a J.N. Burnett graduate and currently attends UBC.