I never thought this would happen to me. I found myself at a crossroads: the calling to be a teacher and the calling to be a writer. All along, the crossroads was an illusion.
In my limited mentality, I thought that I could only be loyal to one passion. You always hear of that saying: follow your passion not follow your passions. I thought that when the time came, I would have to pick one over the other. Just today, I have learned that this is not the case.
I found myself listening to Elizabeth Gilbert on Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations podcast (the “Elizabeth Gilbert: The Curiosity-Driven Life” episode). In this episode, she talks about how after she became famous for her book Eat, Pray, Love, she started giving speeches about how her passion for writing led to her success.
While Elizabeth kept preaching follow your passion, follow your passion, one listener one day admitted that she’d never had a passion. She told Elizabeth that she felt like a total failure after listening to her speech.
This led Elizabeth to rethink the way she delivered her message. Now instead of saying follow your passion she believes in follow your curiosity.
I don’t find myself without a passion. I find myself with two passions, but Elizabeth’s message of follow your curiosity came at the moment when I needed to hear it.
I’ve been feeling like I need to either be a teacher or be a writer. That I can’t be both.
On the days when I’m too tired from a long day of work and don’t have the energy to be a writer, I feel like I let myself down. On the days when I feel like pursuing my writing dreams selfishly, I feel guilt for wanting to let go of my job as a teacher in the future.
Listening to the podcast freed me and opened my eyes into seeing the bigger picture: There’s no need for me to only be the teacher or only be the writer. I can be both and as long as I want to be and however I choose to be both.
The saying follow your passion brings the problem of not knowing which passion to hold on to and which one to let go of. But it was never about letting go of one passion in pursuit of the other. It was always about staying curious and letting curiosity lead us with or without our passions.
In the podcast, Elizabeth shares a poem by Hafiz that resonated with me and that I want to share in this post.
April 20, 2019, Tuesday
“The Place Where You Are Now”
This place where you are right now
God circled on a map for you.
Wherever your eyes and arms and heart can move
Against the earth and the sky,
The Beloved has bowed there –
Our Beloved has bowed there knowing
You were coming.
I could tell you a priceless secret about
Your real worth, dear pilgrim,
But any unkindness to yourself,
Any confusion about others,
Will keep one
From accepting the grace, the love,
The sublime freedom
Divine knowledge always offers to you.
Never mind, Hafiz, about
The great requirements this path demands
Of the wayfarers,
For your soul is too full of wine tonight
To withhold the wondrous Truth from this world.
But because I am so clever and generous,
I have already clearly woven a resplendent lock
Of his tresses
As a remarkable truth and gift
In this poem for you.
Translation by Daniel Ladinsky, The Subject Tonight Is Love