Closing up a week long journey up North to visit family and friends, I drove back to Ohio, reflecting on how neat it is to see the manifestations of all my friends and family member’s dreams.
While at home I observed the final products of dreams of beautiful homes, flourishing careers, children and loving relationships. Of course there were still discussions about dreams that had yet to be realized, but I found it quite amazing to relish in all the dreams that had come to pass in my loved one’s lives.
Many of the dreams I saw realized, had been in their hearts for years, but some had only been there lurking in the private spaces of their minds after following their own curiosity. Perhaps they didn’t know that they would love performing in front of others, teaching children or selling their creations at an art fair. Yet when they did it, they fell in love with a new aspect of life, all because they dared to spend time following a curiosity.
This clarity around curiosity led me to try something new in my life, I have had on my to-do list for quite some time, attending a Toastmasters meeting. Long ago I felt a calling to speak in front of others, but I also felt too shy and unskilled to do so. Yet, the feeling persisted and now that I’m endeavoring into new professional space, the call came even louder than before.
Stepping into the Toastmasters meeting I felt really comfortable and as though the right time had arrived to do so. The people were inviting, dynamic and open. I didn’t feel judgment, only the general desire to help others become better at connecting their speech to large groups.
At each Toastmasters gathering two people give 7 minute speeches and are critiqued. At the session I attended, one lady recited “A Cup of Christmas Tea,” a Christmas poem, from memory, with the goal of being engaging and connecting with her audience. I was taken aback by how marvelously she delivered it and how meaningful it was to hear.
Typically I’m not one to get sentimental about holiday traditions, but knowing that this woman invested a great deal of time to recite this poem to the class, to learn and to her family, to share the joy of Christmas more deeply, touched my heart.
I have no idea why she is attending Toastmasters, I just met the group and all I can assume is that she followed a curiosity that led her to try something new, benefiting her family and most likely her career as she hones in on her ability to connect with others through speech.
There is no way one could calculate the value of these benefits or know if there will ever be a return on the invested time. Yet, I saw joy in her delivery and I felt it in my heart. This led me to come to peace with the fact that it is ok to follow your curiosity despite not entirely knowing where it will take you and when you will get there.
Coincidently I found myself reading a lot about curiosity in Liz Gilbert’s Big Magic novel this past week. The book is about creativity and living an artistic life. I was attracted to it because I love Liz Gilbert’s work, however I wasn’t exactly sure what my objective was in reading it. Yet when I read this quote, I understood the message it had for me.
“Instead of following passion, follow your curiosity, it only asks one simple question, is there anything you’re interested in even a tiny bit, the answer need not set your life on fire or make you quit your job or force you to change your religion, but in that moment, if you can pause & identify one tiny speck of interest in something, curiosity will ask you to turn your head a quarter of an inch and look a little closer.”
What Liz was getting at was the fact that we are all told to follow our passions, yet many of us are not really sure what our passions are. Instead of seeking a passion, Liz guides us to have wonder, to follow our curiosities rather than wait for passion to hit us over the head.
To bring this all together, life can be really interesting when we follow our curiosities, going beyond the dreams of our youth. It is amazing to bask in the joy of your family, a comfortable home and your career, but what dreams lie beyond the attainment of these big life goals? Is there something else that is calling you? A new book, activity, piece of art etc. that just might be the catalyst to opening up a new door in your life.
Remember that following your curiosity doesn’t need to mean making large life changes, maybe it’s just a weekend of exploring something new. It could just lead you down a road to expressing yourself in a way you never would have dreamed of.