Dear NEARESt and Dearest,
Have you ever been asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I know I was asked that all the time. I always had an answer. One year, I wanted to be a singer. Then I wanted to be a geologist. Then I wanted to be a writer. Then I wanted to be a drama teacher. Then I wanted to be a researcher. Then I shifted into a time in my life when where I lived was right up there in importance with what I did. I was always encouraged to work doing something I love. A job was supposed to be connected to something bigger: to purpose, to what I wanted to do, to what I was good at. The idea that work could both allow me to live the independent and joyful life I want, while also making the world a better place, was not lost on me, even as a kid.
I have always been curious by nature. I ask questions. I try new things. I explore. I experiment. There are certain things I am more curious about than others. For example, I am not curious about math or horror movies. I am not curious about skydiving or snake handling. I am not curious about eating bugs or competing in a polar bear plunge. I am curious about politics and music. I am curious about wine and cheese. I am curious about art and architecture. I am curious about sports and wide-awakeness.
What does being curious have to do with deciding who and what we want to be? Elizabeth Gilbert talks about the importance of curiosity. Gilbert suggests that we can follow our curiosity to figure things out. Following curiosity is about a conversation between sensibility and dreaming. Following curiosity is about gently jumping into life with both feet. Following curiosity is about discovering and acting on our burning questions. Ultimately, following curiosity lets life unfold joyfully, rather than sadly, or boringly, or wrongly.
I have decided to follow curiosity. Curiosity includes knowing what I wonder about, deciding I want to know more about, and spending time simply being curious. Curiosity turns work into something that is sustaining and meaningful. Curiosity turns time into something that is precious and not to be wasted. Curiosty connects life and purpose.
I don’t think it is ever too soon, or too late, to think about curiosity. Curiosity gets a bad rap, especially when it is viewed as the opposite of discipline, responsibility, and focus. Curiosity is more than something children do when they are playing. Curiosity is more than something adults do when they are escaping. Curiosity is not a waste of time. Curiosity is vital to life.
What do you want to know more about? If you could wake up every morning doing one thing, what would it be? Do you know any curious people? How would you describe them? These questions are the heart of living curiously.