When I was a little boy, my mother used to refer to me affectionately as "the thinker" because I was born questioning everything and then going to find answers. Even then, I learned that the more I learned, the less I knew. It did not deter me. I spent most of my childhood either running the streets and roof tops of Philadelphia or going to the library where I found peace in the books. In the summer, I spent countless hours sitting outside on the side of the steps of the library with a book in my hands. Funny thing about the library: I never once encountered any gang members there. I guessed they already knew everything so had no need of books.

The ladies behind the counter at the library looked at me strangely at first, but when they saw that I was serious about reading, they began talking to me, and best of all, feeding me as well. They pointed out books they thought I should read, without being condescending to my young age.

I wanted to read books that made me think, so I began with philosophers and political opinionists. Philosophers, as it turned out, were what my mother accused me of being: thinkers. One of the things I remember from that period of my life is from Lucretius: "Man is born naked and bawling; his voice fills the air. Alone among the animals of creation he is capable of astonishing cruelty towards those of his kind, and yet no other creature has such an enormous desire to live or such a thirst for — and need of — the eternal and the infinite."

I could not wrap my head around the infinite. It was too big, wide, deep, and it made me feel so small and inconsequential. Many nights I would climb up on the school roof and just sit to watch the heavens. I fell in love with the moon. To this day i carry on my personal affair with it.

While the universe is so vast, I try not to spend too much time thinking beyond it. Yet I remain curious as to what may be out there that science has not been able to discover. It makes me dream. My imagination goes on overload, and there are just some things I do not want to know about the universe. I would rather be content with the fact that it is slow changing and stars today are in the same place they were for Galileo.

Curiosity has kept me alive. I no longer need to reach out, as I find answers now come from within. As Galileo saw the stars, I see life itself. As Khandra Rinpoche says: "Each human life is completely endowed with the potential for absolute enlightenment." The question is, how do we get from where we are to where we want to go? Remain curious to what surrounds us, but at the same time, look inward to fully understand the true meaning of life.

   Joe Labriola