“I kept following the trail of curiosity. I elected to trust completely in my fascination . . . I stumbled upon the right books, the right people, the right opportunities . . . it was all right in front of me . . . so it worked. But it only worked because I said yes to every single tiny clue of curiosity that I had noticed around me.” —Elizabeth Gilbert, referring to the three year journey to writing The Signature of All Things
The best, most trusted life guidance that will lead you in the direction of fulfillment is absolutely free, but often dismissed as being childish, lacking substance, futile or meant to reside in the lane with hobbies only.
What or who is this most trusted guru when it comes to seeking life advice?
It is your curiosity.
The difficulty for most of us who have been following lock-step in the direction with society or not straying far from what our peers do or our generation does because there is no guarantee and far from a clear forward roadmap of where our curiosity is trying to lead us, is trusting that is it a sound decision. Especially as adults, we have often blindly accepted that we can only pursue endeavors with a likely guarantee of what will be gained or reached should we head down a particular path, but when we remove the blindfold, we discover that it is our curiosity that will lead us in the direction that is best for each of us.
I had the opportunity to work and teach alongside many teachers during my teaching tenure of 20 years, most of whom love their job and chosen career path, but it has been interesting to listen to a few who share with me honestly now that I have retired that they need and desire to step out of the profession – it is time for a change. Something keeps tickling their attention elsewhere. Some single, some married, some with children and some childfree, and some younger and some older than I am (43). I listen, but I don’t advise or compare our journeys. I listen and when I part company with them, my hope for each of my friends and/or former colleagues is that they listen to their curiosity. Wherever and whatever arose in their hearts and minds, I hope they dare to explore it and let go, seeing where it leads them. But I also acknowledge doing so is not for the faint of heart and having support, which includes confidence in ourselves, is crucial. It may lead them away from the profession of teaching or it may lead them in a different direction within their teaching profession. It may reveal to them a truth entirely unrelated to teaching, but wherever it leads, if my life journey has taught me anything, is that our curiosity is wholly constructive and pricelessly beneficial to living with more contentment.
One of the individuals I include above did step away from teaching and now works in a neighboring capacity to the career but not in the classroom or administration, another went half-time, another took a year’s sabbatical and yet another remains in the classroom.
Curiosity quietly speaks to us, so we must quiet our lives to observe what it brings to our attention.
Once we hear or are nudged to explore something, give yourself permission to do so – gradually, on your own, little by little, and enough so that you begin to realize your curiosity might just be on to something you don’t yet understand. But let me assuage your fears, the understanding eventually does become clear, however, only after you dare to trust your curiosity.
As you begin to witness that your curiosity is leading you to discoveries that elevate your fulfillment and enjoyment of life, as Gilbert shares above, it is almost by what seems to be magic, “the right books, the right people, the right opportunities” begin to cross your path, and this time, because you are aware of what surrounds you due to having followed your curiosity for some time, as you begin to finally see them, engage with them and not dismiss them.
Your life begins to change, and with time, you figure out your purpose. That length of time it takes for your life to change may be months or it may be years, but it is worth whatever time it takes so that you do not rush the journey and instead just let it go at its natural pace. Why? You cannot direct magic. You must instead dance with it. At any time, if it feels ‘your journey’ is moving too slow, often, it is life’s way of giving you time to learn valuable lessons you haven’t absorbed yet, but need to absorb. Trust this timing. Your curiosity knows what you need, funny enough, and if you have trusted it this far, stay the course.
And especially stay the course for one of the most difficult temporary periods of your journey as you trust your curiosity . . .
“Whatever it is you are pursuing, whatever it is that you are seeking, whatever it is you are creating, be careful not to quite too soon . . . don’t let go of your courage the moment things stop being easy or rewarding . . . That’s the moment when interesting begins.” —Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
You will notice a difference, the magic feels as though it is less potent, but because of this, you reflect on your journey thus far, and you realize indeed your curiosity was spot-on, and you simply had to trust and step forward. Hold on to this knowledge and weather the temporary hiccups, halts, apparent but necessary “teachers” that appear as obstacles and remind yourself that this is part of understanding that this is the direction you were meant to go; however, you just need to understand a few things first that you didn’t previously.
Yes, the universe may be testing you as well, but there is never a ‘test’ without a gem of wisdom to apply moving forward, and yep, you will be moving forward soon so long as you don’t turn around and retreat.
Your curiosity is your best guide, one that resides within you at all times. Whether it is following your curiosity down the path of botanical gardening as it was for Elizabeth Gilbert, or following your curiosity about why Mother Nature speaks to you so endearingly from its feathered petite darlings to its domesticated four-legged creatures which leads you to live with more awareness and conscientiousness, or whether aspects of a particular culture such as the French culture or the culinary world within the French culture speak to you, I cannot tell you what you will find and nor will you ever know until you begin to simply explore where it leads.
A necessary part of living a life you love living is acknowledging when you don’t enjoy your life and if this is a regular feeling, then the need to do something differently on a regular basis is imperative. Change up your environment, how you work, who you spend time with, etc., etc., but in order to see and experience something that might tickle your curiosity, you must begin to introduce your daily life to new experiences. Start very small, and discover the power of such minute changes. Just as it is with a feather that tickles our neck or our elbow, it only need be a very slight detail or touch that awakes our curiosity. So long as we hold ourselves quiet enough or still enough to observe what we experience, the journey that we have wanted has begun. Bravely step forward and be delighted by what begins to reveal itself to you.
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