The hum


I listened to Elizabeth Gilbert this morning talking about The Curiosity-Driven Life, and it blew my mind a little. I didn’t run out to the world and shout Hallelujah, but something popped in me. A recognition.

The talk spun off a reader who had posted a comment on her Facebook page. Elizabeth had offered her inspirational call to arms on creativity, another urge to ‘follow your passion.’ And the reader was like, right, that’s it, I’ve had it with you passionate people talking about passion. Shut right up about passion! I don’t know what my passion is and it’s making me really distressed that all you passionate people do.

Elizabeth, being the magician that she is, was right on it. She totally got it. Put down the word passion, she said, and follow your curiosity. What a relief! Like that reader, all my life I have flitted from one thing to the next, feeling incredibly guilty about it. I always knew I would write but I became confused about the process. Where was the burning passion? Why wasn’t I leaping out of bed in the morning to pursue this passion? What exactly was the passion anyway?

I became fascinated with people who had a singular purpose. I sing. I’m a doctor. I’m a gardener. I’m a carpenter. I’m a lawyer. You meet these people who have never questioned what they are doing in life. They seem born to do it. They are at ease.

Elizabeth Gilbert calls them jackhammers – early on, they have identified what they are good at and they get about it like jackhammers. Newsflash: these people are fairly rare.

The rest of us, she says, are hummingbirds. We flit from one thing to another, weaving ideas here and there and, as she puts it so brilliantly, we end up cross-pollinating the world. Just like those blessed people who are sailing on their passion, we are blessed too – we have rich lives too.

We follow the hum of the universe, and we don’t feel bad about ourselves for doing it. We are the goddam hummingbirds!

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2 thoughts on “The hum

  1. “A fool thinks himself wise but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.” (Shakespeare). I agree – the curious hummingbird is not society’s misfit but yet society so often thinks it is for lacking singular purpose. It should be encouraged to fly free.

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