follow your…?

By March 29, 2014 22 Comments

Our son is six weeks old now. He studies and studies what is outside his nursery window. He stares intently at the black and white images we’ve printed for him. He watches as if the greatest dance ever is being performed in front of him when I make simple movements with my hands.

You can’t watch a little one like this and not see how much we are wired to be fascinated by the world.

He’s taught me this lesson already: Our natural relationship to the world is not indifference. It is curiosity. [Click to Tweet]

We come into life as learners. We come into life excited by the world, waving our arms and kicking our legs because what’s before us is just so damn remarkable. If curiosity has to be sparked later, in older children or adults, it’s because something has gone wrong and their natural curiosity has been dampened along the way.

Soul-crushing jobs or schooling, unhealed emotional trauma, addictive behaviors like chronic overeating or workaholism, or simply being run by too many internal “shoulds”—all of these can slowly kill off our curiosity because all of those things numb us to life.

This all matters for your playing big. You’ve heard about “following your passion and “following your bliss.” Another way to think about this is: follow your curiosity. Perhaps when “finding your passion”seems daunting or “follow your bliss” seems too tall an order, “following your curiosity” is a more accessible entry point in.

In to what? To a career you’ll love or to an outside-of-work life (a reading life, a creative life, a hobby life, a volunteering life, etc.) that you’ll love. Curiosity is a way in to the life that will feel thrilling to you, in the way every quiet life can feel thrilling, if it’s filled with the right things.

There’s two truths about curiosity: Particular topics, kinds of work, books, people, etc. will pique your curiosity. The things that pique your curiosity have something to do with what work you are meant to do next, what lessons you are meant to do next, what your spirit is craving. In other words, you can follow your curiosity to your next right chapter.

But the other truth is this: you can get curious about anything. You can bring curiosity to the table, even the most seemingly boring, full-of-drudgery table. You can find something in it to get curious about (How did this situation evolve? What’s possible here? What’s strange about this situation? How could it be that…? What would happen if I did…? and so on) You make it part of your life-learning curriculum by the way you look at it, the questions you ask.

A question to reflect on today—and share your answer with us in the comments please: what is sparking my curiosity now, and what would “following my curiosity” look like in my life or work right now?

Join the discussion 22 Comments

  • Nancy Luikart says:

    I always enjoy your posts.

    I had the opportunity to listen to Jen Chapin sing last week. One of her songs has the line “Find your joy and let it show.” She wrote it after the birth of her first child. Great song and fits what you wrote.

  • Sheryl says:

    As I work to raise my son who will be turning 8 in a few weeks, this need for curiosity really resonates with me. I think if we can let our kids be curious it will help give them the balance they need as to they grow into the world we’ve designed that stifles them and can lead them to be less than their best selves. I am so happy watching your 6 week old lead you to this revelation. And even happier that you shared it with us!

  • carl says:

    Beautiful post…
    In this moment, I am curious about how I lose curiosity. Like the David Whyte line: “anything or anyone who does not bring you alive is too small for you.”
    It can be a hair’s difference between when I am tuned into my curiosity about a conversation, a situation, a quality of light, or when that curiosity is clouded. That hair’s difference makes all the difference.

  • Paulina says:

    Today my curiosity ignites with knitting. I see yarns and I see ways to express what words sometimes are unable to. I see a grandmother knitting and I am curious about how her finger movements are intricately connected to her brain waves. How come knitters are calm and happy and patient? Well, there is a beauty in using our hands to create. There is curiosity in what will come out of a piece of yarn and a hook. I love knitting, today I am passionate about knitting. I don’t really know why. But I am curious to find out.

  • What a beautiful post Tara. Your little one is so fortunate to have you as a Mom! Your observation about how encouraging a baby’s curiosity is a key to who he/she will become as an adult is so true. It is tragic that the simple act of being joyously accompanied in our exploration of the world, in our curiosity and in our growth may seem like a lot to expect for those of us who have experienced neglect or abuse early in life. Please continue to inspire us with your loving reminders about how exquisitely sensitive little people are. I will keep at the forefront of my awareness how supporting curiosity, wether in a baby or in an adult, can make the difference between feeling we belong in the world or struggle with depression and anxiety.

  • Jenni says:

    Hi Tara,
    Isn’t it utterly fascinating watching babies? I remember every moment with wonder. Savor them and write things down. Take lots of pictures. I am curious right now about water colors and wondering if I can learn to paint watercolor landscapes. I am going to take a class to play around with it.

  • Leo says:

    You’re an Inspiration Tara. You’re Amazing!

  • Diana says:

    Tara, I enjoy your fresh take on this age-old truth! Congratulations on becoming a mother. Enjoy the magic!

  • Brittany says:

    Love the tweet! I tweeted it as soon as I read it.
    I am most curious about nutrition, well being & healing.
    If I could, I’d learn about it and share my knowledge. Having two little ones (ages 3&1) has made me very health conscious.

  • Justine says:

    Congratulations on your little miracle, Tara! This morning, I received a beautiful, lingerie company newsletter that asked, “Want to know about balconettes?” I did. The paragraph, below the question, explained that a balconette is an everyday bra with wires that reach midway up, so we can feel happy that our assets are safe and secure, but also has straps that are slightly further apart, so they are perfect with our wide neck tops. Lingerie styles, construction, and cultures have always peeked my curiosity. I love to learn about and see the different patterns, shapes, sizes, and hear women’s stories of how we relate with our bras. I know I have this curiosity, but I feel like I need encouragement, sometimes. When I’m shopping for–or just wearing a cute bra that I really like, I feel like I’m following my bliss, my passion, my curiosity, and experiencing empowerment. I also feel this way when I read other women’s stories of their experiences with foundation garments. I would love to hear from anyone who can relate, who would be willing to share.

  • TechLady says:

    As always Tara, you are right on point! Through my tech company, I have created a platform to accommodate my INSATIABLE curiosity. Once I was asked by an executive of a Fortune 100 company, “why would you take on this huge challenge in building a technology to address this complex problem.” My simple answer was, “I am curious to see if I can do it.” We did it. Curiosity can be a combination of wonderment, passion and excitement. Can’t wait to get out of bed every morning!

  • Debra Eve says:

    Congrats on that cute little fella, Tara! I couldn’t agree more. One of my favorite science fiction writers, Bruce Sterling, puts it another way: “Follow your weird…Forget trying to pass for normal…woo the muse of the odd.”

  • Leila says:

    Lovely post -reminded me of those blissful baby-gazing days long past. Very special. I kept copious notes – a fabulous time to write – actually. Just want to mention that I see over-eating and workaholism are symptoms/the result of lost curiosity and not the cause.
    I’m curious about how dreams and reality seem to be blending into one….

  • Lara in Vancouver says:

    Brilliant. And…all this reflection and clarity from a mother of a brand new baby!
    Life certainly can be divinely satisfying…. if we treat ourselves to enjoying what we naturally enjoy…..often right in front of us, hidden in those tiny moments of pleasure that bring us satisfaction…

    I like paying attention to those moments…they contain potent information…..

  • Carmen says:

    Great post Tara. I agree that curiosity is a much less daunting thing to follow, and has less positive or negative connotation in my mind. It is also much easier for me to honestly and quickly sense in my body. Sometimes when I try to ‘follow my calling/bliss’ if it’s not happening with the success I’d like it doesn’t seem so blissful. Then I wonder if I should continue with that path as I’m experiencing discomfort/rejection. Asking ‘am I still curious about this?’ is much less loaded question to ask myself when deciding whether to proceed. Thank you!

  • Elise says:

    My child is now 30 years old and the seeds planted all those years ago still blossom. What I am curious about? To interview those who cultivate our lands and resources with heart and soul so diverse cultures and the essence of “community and sharing with our neighbors” is not lost in our fast paced, competitive society.

    As an elder, I’m “curious” as to what we bring forward and what we will leave behind.

  • Lisa Zahn says:

    Follow your passion often feels like a huge weight on my back. How do I find that ONE thing when there are so many things I love and am interested in?! I love your message because “follow your curiosity” I can do. I have loads of curiosity! It’s so freeing to remind myself of this. It reminds me of a book that really helped me see myself in a new light–Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher. It’s a super helpful book for all of us multi-passionate people. Thank you for this reminder!

  • Kathy says:

    I don’t usually reply to posts but…I needed to. I am a passionate knitter. Its funny but I don’t consider myself to be calm and patient but when I pick up my kneedles to knit a sense of calm and patience envelopes me. It is so meditative…keep on knitting and stay curious!

  • Kathy says:

    Thank you for the beautiful post. As a mother of 2 young adult boys I remained curious how different they saw the world than me. I learned so much about not taking life so seriously and to let go. Enjoy every moment. Namaste

  • Irene says:

    Hi Tara,

    Congrats on your wonderful little boy! I have used curiousity to liven up what would normally be a boring situation. I think people can get intimidated by the purpose question but the curiousity quesiton is not intimidating at all.

  • […] your curiosity + get curious about your […]

  • Heidi says:

    Hi Tara ~

    Just surfaced from a digital sabbatical and a friend had forwarded this blog post – I am loving it so much! I’ve been in conversation with this topic myself – eerily with some of the exact wording – and I’m looking forward to publishing much more about this subject within the month. I’ll be sure to include you in the conversation, Tara. Thanks for sharing insight derived from such a precious source. Cheers! Heidi

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