After reading and researching for this article, I realized that when I wrote my book, I didn’t dig deep enough into the different aspects of passion and may have left readers feeling “hung out to dry” after reading it.
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray Love, addressed this in a recent Super Soul Sunday talk she gave. She had often spoken about the necessity of finding your passion until she recently gave a talk in Australia. After her talk, she had gone back to her hotel room and read an email from a woman who had just heard her speak. This woman was very upset as she felt that she didn’t know what her passion was that Elizabeth’s talk had left her feeling very helpless.
I remember as I was getting older, I didn’t feel I had a passion. I responded to situations as they arose, but there didn’t seem to be a common thread. Sometimes I was interested in the arts, sometimes in politics, and I did love to plan trips and travel. You might say I was a dabbler.
In her speech, Elizabeth delved deeper into what she was defining as passion and to the importance that she was giving to it. Even as a child, she had been a writer. As she grew up, writing was the primary focus of her life. That indeed was her passion. In delving deeper, she realized that there were many people who were just very curious about a number of things and didn’t have a specific passion. Those people were like hummingbirds who flew from flower to flower; exploring this and trying that.
I realize that I have spent most of my life being a hummingbird. It’s only in the past ten years that I have come to love writing. I have delighted in writing about the second half of life and having people enjoy reading what I write. I wouldn’t call it a passion, though. Maybe I was passionate about living my life with curiosity. Early in 2015 I had the opportunity to teach health literacy to Bhutanese refugees and to become a patient navigator, guiding refugees through our medical system. I loved that experience. However, later in 2015, I began receiving many inquiries into my book and requests to speak to groups.
Last month I decided to quit teaching. I wanted to spend more time on the message in my book, and how to speak to groups from a deeper place within myself. I am continuing to do book signings and giving talks. I will continue to volunteer with refugees.
So, let’s give a shout out to curiosity and just being alert to what gives us joy. When we were kids, curiosity may not have been a trait that grown ups wanted to encourage. As adults, curiosity may have had to take a back seat to following the expectations of others in our career.
But the good news is now that we are older, we can resurrect that urge to know more and explore different aspects of our lives.
Research has found that activities that keep the mind curious are linked to brain health and longevity. These activities include traveling, reading, memorizing poetry, learning a new language or musical instrument and delving into the world wide web.
Curiosity may guide us to our passion. However, being curious is a gift that keeps on giving and continually gives us clues on enjoying this potentially wonderful scavenger hunt known as the second half of life.