Elizabeth Gilbert

what are you curious about?

I consider myself a passionate person. I have lots of opinions and get fired up easily. I tend towards extremes and express an expansive range of emotions on a daily basis.

Living your passion can be quite lovely. But if you can’t identify it, if you can’t identify yourself, or if you just don’t have the energy — living your passion can also be intimidating and burdensome.

I can confidently recognize activities and causes about which I care a great deal, but my life is not stripped of direction if I am not constantly engaged in them. In fact, in this season, I would prefer to not be preoccupied by passion. It sounds heavy and exhausting.

Lately, instead of: “What are you passionate about?” I prefer a question that’s more sustainable for my everyday life: “What are you curious about?”

Passion asks, “For what cause will you die? What keeps your soul awake at night? What battle will you fight until the very end?”

Curiosity asks, “What are you interested in right now? Maybe not tomorrow, but just in this moment?”

I learn a lot from watching my one-year-old discover the world. He may hate blackberries for the next month, but in this moment, he loves them and wants to devour a dozen all at once. I want to embrace life with such eagerness, and not worry if things will change tomorrow — because inevitably they will.

My toddler doesn’t need to submit to one life path now (or ever). If Atlas develops a clear passion, he will go after it, for is that not what a passion is — an extravagant conviction that compels you to follow? I want to foster his interests, but I don’t want him to be overwhelmed by the pressure to commit to them, as I felt for years.

I used to be obsessed with purpose, obsessed with passion. I wanted so badly to live right, with unwavering zeal and determination. But out of fear and disconnection with myself, I hardly lived at all.

Now, I am motivated less by ambition, and more by gratitude and wonder. I am not naturally a curious person, but staying in this moment — not tomorrow, but just in this moment — is exactly what I need.

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I’d love to hear your thoughts! Are you living your passion? How did you identify it? What motivates you? What are you curious about today? What reflective question is most helpful to you in this season?


Inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic

Photo credit: Taryn Kimberly Photography

 

immune to failure

There is a famous question that shows up, it seems, in every single self-help book ever written: What would you do if you knew that you could not fail?

But I’ve always seen it differently. I think the fiercest question of all is this one: What would you do even if you knew that you might very well fail?

What do you love doing so much that words failure and success essentially become irrelevant?

-Elizabeth Gilbert

“What would I do even if I knew that I might very well fail?”

I’m always up for self-reflection and knowing my heart a little deeper. And so I pose this new question to myself, excited for what I may uncover, and I feel stuck. As if I am providing an answer to the wrong question. Then it dawns on me: I’m doing what I love, and I cannot fail. This may sound presumptuous, but let me explain how failure and success have indeed become entirely irrelevant in my life.

I cannot fail at what I love most.

The first love that comes to mind is motherhood. I have felt weary cleaning up after another messy mealtime and bewildered as to why Atlas won’t stop crying, but I have never felt like a failure as a mom. I am not claiming mastery at parenthood, but I don’t need anything from my kids to constitute success. I may not be as consistent with discipline as I would like, but the only way I could fail at motherhood is if I no longer mothered, if I no longer loved.

The second love is writing. I have yet to be published and I have yet to write a book, but writing is the one and only thing I have loved since childhood that has always loved me back. Writing is my artistic outlet, my internal processing, my life documentation. I have created things that aren’t well-written, and I may never produce a bestseller, but I don’t need writing to accomplish anything in order for me to keep returning to it.

The only way to fail at doing something I love is to reject it.

Since mother and writer are core facets of my heart, I can no sooner deny those labels than I can refuse to be myself. As long as I am mothering and writing, I am succeeding at being a mother and writer. While ideas and projects may flop, they do not inform my identity. I can do things that fail, but I am not a failure. Motherhood and writing are fulfilling in themselves and not for any level of achievement that they might generate.

Only if I require a certain outcome, e.g. insist my children exhibit good behavior or depend upon a book to make a profit, am I at risk for expectations falling short. But when I love truly, I don’t make any demands and there are no attached conditions. I am free to be me and do the things I love, simply because they are what I love to do and who I love to be.

I love nurturing, caring for, and being with my children. I will continue to be a mother, no matter what happens to them or how their lives unfold. I love partnering with inspiration and expressing my thoughts in a tangible way. I will continue to be a writer, regardless of financial success or if anyone reads another word I write.

So the questions: “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” and “What would you do even if you knew that you might very well fail?” are more appropriately rephrased: “What would you do if you believed it was who you are, if you could not fail as long as you kept doing it?”

Whatever question resonates with you, whatever it is you love that makes you come alive, I hope you’re doing it, and that you never stop <3

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I’d love to know about the things you love to do, the ones that connect you to the deepest part of yourself. Feel free to leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you :)