Anything one does everyday is important and imposing and anywhere one lives is interesting and beautiful.” (Gertrude Stein)
By happenstance, I discovered The Country Diary of an Edwardian Woman by Edith Holden at the library last fall. Written in 1905-06 and discovered and published in 1977, the book itself as well as the story of its discovery are both incredibly beautiful and inspiring. Edith wrote and illustrated the whole document without showing it to anyone during her life. She illustrated and documented a whole year of plants and animals around her home. Each month includes beautiful drawings, quotes, and informative details specific to that month. It’s amazing to think about the time and energy she invested into a project for no one but herself. She saw the beauty of her environment and valued her own passions enough to call them important even if no one else did.
In a world of instant feedback, affirmation, and connection, this story provides a powerful counter-narrative to our contemporary culture. What does it look like to do something for the sole purpose of fulfilling your own internal desire without seeking fame or approval? How secure must we be to pursue something without any encouragement but our own?
I adore social media and the ability to share and connect. It’s powerful and beautiful when used well. Creative expression and important messages have instant audiences.
Perhaps the most important thing that has come out of my life is the discovery that if you prepare yourself at every point as well as you can, with whatever means you may have, however meager they may seem, you will be able to grasp opportunity for broader experience when it appears. Without preparation you cannot do it. The fatal thing is the rejection. Life was meant to be lived, and curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)
It’s easy to stifle our passions because they are daunting or seem unimportant compared to everything immediately in front of us needing our attention. Regardless of what other people see, we always have the opportunity to prepare ourselves by staying curious and pursuing the desires in our hearts. Like Edith Holden we can produce something for the pure purpose of fulfilling a deep desire within without having anyone else see.
Whether you decide to share your pursuit with others or keep it to yourself, here are five encouragements to stay curious and pursue your passion:
- Choose something specific: it’s really helpful to go narrow and deep rather than broad and wide. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel, unless that’s something you’re really passionate about, but we can focus in on one niche aspect and specialize on it.
- Write it down: put that one thing or those ten things that you would do if you only had a year to live on paper and start putting a little time aside each week to work on it.
- Remove perfection from the equation: this is a tall order for most of us, but it’s so important to do something that’s “good enough” and be content with that.
- Make it a habit: it doesn’t have to happen daily, but adding this to the rhythm of life means it will get the attention it deserves. It also means something else may get less attention because if you say “yes” to this something else will get a “no.”
- Stay inspired: focus on and search out inspiration. Sometimes inspiration turns into competition because we see the amazing work done by others and feel defeated, but it’s vital to our soul to nourish it with those things that speak deeply to our hearts.
Happy passion pursuing, friends!