I've spent a few days working with four of my most wonderful and favorite collegues/collaborators. We've been working on a database/NSF grant for the last couple of years. It is not my most favorite research (and hopefully they are not reading this to find that out). But, working with them has made me care about the science far more than I would have otherwise.
There are lots of reasons we chose what we do. There is a point at which it just comes down to "this is interesting because X, Y, Z", where XYZ don't have a meta explanation of their own. Or because it would be cool to cure cancer, make disabled children walk, understand how mankind evolved. But why is that interesting?
The impact of collaborators is often underestimated. These folks have made me think about all sorts of things, and I cannot exactly explain why. They are open and they like to eat cookies. One went to visit Duke and sent me this picture: