It’s what I remind myself as I experience and collect the stories in this second half of my life.
But why stay curious?
Why spend time being inquisitive about anything that doesn’t promise guaranteed results, isn’t necessarily trending, or connected to your career field, investment portfolio, friends, family, heritage, or some required program?
I’d like to suggest a few reasons.
One – we’ve already lived most of our adult years conforming to all the above and we pretty much have it nailed down. If you haven’t suspected by now, it can be pretty formulaic, draining and limiting much of the time and we can each really do so much better with the years that lie ahead.
Two – your curiosity will reveal the portal to some of the best stories of your life to come. Personally, I fully believe this is go-time. Stereotypically, past generations of zoomers, empty nesters and seniors knew that a certain age was approaching and at the sound of the buzzer, it was time to punch the last time card, turn over the parking space and maybe settle into some comfy lawn furniture. We’re aging at an incredibly unique time in history. I’ve been encouraged by more than one middle-aged friend when they make comments like “now I’m going to really give my ideas wings” or “this couldn’t come at a worse time, but now I know what I’m going to do.” For some, the time is ripe for an encore career. www.encore.org
Three – Many believe the lie that life decisions should be solely purpose-based and that curiosity is a characteristic best left to children. It is true, at some point our life ceases to be propelled by curiosity-driven action and transitions to one of predominantly purpose-driven actions. In his post The Power of Curiosity, Scott H. Young explains that as children, it’s a trait that propels us towards each new frontier of knowledge but at some point in our life the flame begins to lower until it dies out. “Curiosity is replaced with purpose, and in that replacement, something important has been lost.” http://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2009/02/02/the-power-of-curiosity/
I think this last point scares me most of all. Darn right it’s important. Maybe even crucial to living the life you were meant to live. Sadly, most of us have the wrong idea of what that is. We look strictly to our financial advisors, aestheticians, trainers, inner circle of friends or the media for the word on what successful aging looks like and how to prepare for it. Then we pour valuable energy and time into struggling and striving to qualify for it. Buh-bye personal creativity, dreams and unique calling.
Curiosity + Purpose
Curiosity has always been one of my most loyal friends, but I remember a season when I turned my back on her. Purpose had to have more of my time as construction began on the foundations of career, finances, relationships and family. But when those close to me said I’d lost my sunny disposition and never laughed anymore, I knew I’d let the flame of our friendship fizzle.
I’m happy to say that eventually the three of us began spending more time together. For the most part, Purpose has been left in charge of timing, information, budgets and common sense. However, Curiosity was and always will be my bestie, helping with things like exploring less typical vacation destinations, developing an odd collection of coffee table books, learning a craft and turning it into a small business, studying acting and writing, and becoming an enthusiastic birder.
Many have a hard time giving themselves permission to really be honest about what they enjoy. Take a moment, take a risk and reflect on some of these questions:
- Go back to your childhood. Remember being 12 (or another age). What did you really love to do? Do you still love doing that?
- Question the motive behind your current interests, hobbies and pursuits. If you had to move thousands of miles away next week would they transfer with you? Would they survive without your friends or relatives? Would you still be interested? If the answers are no, you’re not tapping your own curiosity.
- What things are you drawn to that are essentially free? (whether you ever take the time to do them or not).
- Imagine a three-day personal retreat where you can spend time doing three things you think you never have time to do. Where would you go? What would you spend time doing? What would you take with you?
These prompts offer just the tiniest bit of kindling. But in the days to come, maybe something will spark and set off a flame. Don’t be surprised if it even comes in the form of some adversity or conflict. That’s when you’ll find you start taking steps, (baby ones are important) over the rigid borders of purpose.
Once trusted, a healthy curiosity never gives up. Its intent is to nurture you towards those overlooked areas that speak to your uniqueness. It’s reminded me of my love for Spanish guitar and signed me up for lessons. It’s encouraged me to not give up on my citrus trees as I scour the Internet and nurse them through our Canadian climate. It’s drawn me to the stories of real suffering on this planet and stirred a passion to help however I can with a number of missions and causes.
Yeah, I think curiosity really gets me.
Photo Credit: broterham via Compfight cc
It would be great to hear how curiosity is getting a little more “show time” in your life.