For the Love of Curiosity. (and Tolkien.)

If you’ve been listening to The Knitty Gritty podcast, you know that we’ve been talking a lot about being curious, and Melissa has listed it as one of her favorite qualities in a person. I would have to agree!

Curiosity is the driving force from within that inspires us to learn, try, and do.

We are curious from the very beginning–experimenting and exploring our way as we grow. It’s hard-wired in us to be so, and as children, the motivation behind making our parents crazy with the never-ending question, “Why?”

Too often, as we step out into ourselves and the rigidity of school and work lessons are placed upon us, we are almost forced into curiosity. We’re encouraged to learn about things whether or not we care about a particular subject or task. Much of this information is required simply to get along well in life and society, and if you don’t nail down the less interesting tasks required to do your job, you probably won’t keep it for long.

And once we get into a routine, sometimes it’s easy to lose track of curiosity. We get up, go to work or do our daily chores, eat our meals, sleep, and wake up to do it all again. We watch the same shows or movies because they provide comfort. (Guilty! Hello again, LOST and Lord of the Rings!) We cook or eat many of the same meals because they are easy and don’t require a lot of planning or thinking. We hang out with the same people because they know us, and we know what to expect of them.

Don’t get me wrong—it’s both wonderful and a privilege to have the comfort of our beloved shows, food, family, and friends. There is much to be gained from habits and routines.

But if you ever feel that you may be missing out on something or that there is possibly more that could be added to your life, you may have forgotten to let yourself be curious.

That’s me at the top middle! So much hairspray…don’t light a match!

As a young adult, I decided not to pursue a set career and instead followed my curiosity to Hollywood, California, to start a rock band.

This was both a terrible and fabulous idea. In the logistical sense, it was pretty stupid. I drove across the country in a car that wasn’t very reliable with someone I barely knew to a town I’d never been to. I had no job or apartment waiting for me and no contacts to make my way into the music biz. It was quite literally a leap of faith. In many ways, it would have been easier for me to just stay in Minneapolis and make my life whatever it would be in a more conventional way. But I was simply too curious to let that happen.

There were no guarantees, but I wanted to know if I could do it. Whom would I become? How would it change me? What would I see, and whom would I meet? What could I experience beyond anything I could imagine or participate in where I currently was?

If I had never gone, I would have been left with the question “What if?” for the rest of my life.

And guess what? I wasn’t successful—not in the actual sense of the word. I never became a rock star. I didn’t even get paid for performing most of the time, so it never became any kind of job. It certainly didn’t lead me on a solid life trajectory that gave me a sense of security and accomplishment.

But it did so much more.

  • By starting a life in a brand-new place with no one to help me, I realized that I had that skill.

  • By joining and putting together groups of people to make music with, I used my creative thinking and gifts in new and exciting ways, which was fulfilling.

  • By living day to day financially, I learned how to get by with what I had.

  • By not having anything handed to me on a silver (or gold record!) platter, I got to evaluate what was most important and be fully present.

  • By immersing myself in the life required to be there and do what I was doing, I learned the valuable lesson that it wasn’t what I wanted after all.

Don’t get me wrong, this was no picnic full of sunshine and flowers, and I certainly was not grateful for those experiences at the time! But all of this made me who I am today. And I have absolutely no regrets.

Now curiosity is not only about huge life-changing moments. It’s about staying open to noticing and then acting on the little nudges you get when your inner self– your elemental self—tells you what it wants to explore. I truly believe that when you let it lead you, when you heed what I name your Call of the Wild, it often does guide you to something transformative.

It could seem small at first. For some odd reason, you find yourself drawn to that lovely pink dress you keep seeing at Target (hello, spring!), but that makes no sense because you hate pink. However, whenever you go to that second home of yours (wait. Maybe you don’t shop at Target as much as I do…), you walk by it again to see if it’s still there. Sometimes you even put it in your cart. But then you chicken out before you get to check out. Because you don’t like pink!

Maybe you never liked pink before, but your elemental self is widening her horizons. Suddenly, things are shifting and looking different to you. Deciding whether you like pink is not earth-shattering, for sure, but what else may you not be allowing yourself to like or do? What messages have you heard that no longer suit who you are now? It could very well be that by letting yourself be curious, you may end up wearing that blasted pink dress and feeling better than you have in years because you are finally allowing yourself to be who you are. Stranger things have happened.

If you never venture out into the unknown, if you never challenge yourself and take some risks, you may never get to find out who you truly are. Many of our fundamental traits stay the same throughout our lives, but we need to change and grow as things change and grow around us.

We risk missing many opportunities to expand if we don’t stay curious and take a chance!

And now, the Tarot.

You can’t get a better tarot card to represent curiosity than a Page. The Page is the youngest or most inexperienced of the Court Cards, a group of 16 cards of the deck that represent our archetypes and personalities. In a conventional deck, there are four of them; the Page of Cups, the Page of Wands, The Page of Swords, and the Page of Pentacles. Each one represents a unique area of discovery and exploration: on an emotional, creative, communicative or learning, or job/career/higher learning level.

The call of Pink? I would say that’s either the Page of Cups or Page of Wands for you, depending on whether pink feels like an emotional connection that’s being stymied or some kind of creative block. You’re in a fine career but feel the pull to return to some kind of school? That could be the Page of Pentacles. The Page of Swords energy may be calling when you suddenly feel the need to write that book you’ve had swimming around in your brain.

Pages help to inspire and embrace passion, ambition, and the importance of learning. No matter who we are and what we do, we are all Pages at the beginning of anything we want to improve or discover. Embrace that youthful energy and jump in! Start asking why, and how. Sure, you’ll make mistakes, and that Page may even lead you in the wrong direction. But how will you find the right path if you don’t go through the door?

It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your front door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to.”

This may be my favorite quote ever by JRR Tolkien. It recognizes how scary it is to take that step onto an unknown path while, at the same time, getting you excited about the possibilities it could lead to.

Is there something that’s been calling to you that you’ve been too afraid to answer? Are you ignoring it because it scares you or because you don’t have the time? In my humble opinion, you can’t afford NOT to explore something that tugs at your elemental self. Whatever this new thing will bring to your life, or open yourself up to, could send you right down the road to your Happily Ever After.

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