It was February in Hanoi, in this bustling southeast asian city where modernity meets tradition and there are more scooters and motorbikes than cars and traffic is a nightmare. We were nearing the end of our trip around Vietnam. My partner and I only had 24 hours to discover this city. We wanted to avoid spending time in places full of tourists and wanted to see as much as possible of the different quarters to get a global feeling of what makes this city different from every other city in the world. So we walked.
Every now and then I stopped to take pictures. I’m not usually the kind of person taking pictures, but my grandmother spent most of her childhood in Vietnam (when it was still called French Indochina) and I wanted to show her how much the country had changed since she moved back to France 70 years ago.
In the French quarter, a small building caught my attention. It was small (compared to the other ones in the area), old and not really easy to spot from the street. But I took a picture anyway. And we went our way.
Back in France, I visited my grandmother and showed her the pictures. She was fascinated. Vietnam had changed so much, but yet had not changed at all. Suddenly she stopped talking. She was watching the picture of this building I had forgotten everything about. Not only did she recognize it, she had actually spent several years in this place, a school for girls at the time.
I’m not a believer, neither in god, nor in destiny or fate, but I think some things happen for a reason. And this trip to Vietnam happened for a reason. My taking this picture happened for a reason. To let me know I am definitely where I am supposed to be, part of this family I was not born into, linked to Vietnam in ways I could not imagine.
Vietnam flag via Flickr
You may be wondering why I’m sharing this story. There are many advantages to being curious and passionate about many things. One of them is this ability to find outside of ourselves connections we are not aware of, some ways we behave that are not truly us. Our curiosity can bring us to discoveries about ourselves we did not expect. And these discoveries may change who you think you are, and as a consequence the way you’ll live your life.
One drawback of curiosity however is we might get so overwhelmed by the many projects and things we do, we always run and rarely take time to stop, listen, observe, notice and think about who we we are, what we really want to do and why we are doing the things we do.
Curiosity is more often than not directed outwards in a need to know more: What is going to happen after the events in Charleston? How do I learn to play guitar? Why did my friend cried during the party the other day ? Who was the first person to discover DNA? But we should also think about directing it inwards to answer some pretty big questions.
Who do you think you are? What do you really want from life? Why are you doing what you’re doing?
Picture via Flickr
These are really important questions to find answers to. And as Caroline McHugh explained in her TEDxtalk, the problem is “most of us would rather sleepwalk until something happens to wake us up. And what will happen is somebody you love will get sick, or you’ll get sick. Or you’ll get fired. Or maybe it’s something impersonal, maybe 9/11 happens, or the tsunami happens or the kashmiri earthquake happens… but something happens that rocks you back into that inner self and makes you ask the question [who do you think you are?] The problem is when it happens catastrophically, is you’re vulnerable, you’re weak. Why wouldn’t you ask yourself these questions when you’re strong, from a position of health, when you’re in a job, when you’re loved, that’s when the questions become more useful.”
I don’t yet have all the answers to these questions, but I don’t want to sleepwalk either. And I know I will have to keep asking myself those questions regularly throughout my life. I know that I am a positive, dynamic, passionate, curious person, with multiple ethnicities. I also know I really care about knowing people, knowing who they really are and what they really want to accomplish. And maybe one way or another I can play a role in helping them do that.
What about you? What are your answers? I don’t want this blog to only be a one way thing where I share my story, some knowledge and tips. I want to know who you are, your goals and your struggles.
So please let me know what would you say is your biggest struggle when it comes to being a curious person ?
- juggling multiple projects ?
- creating a life that allows you to do everything that you love ?
- choosing your next project ?
- letting go of projects?
- learning new things ?
- anything else?
I really want to know. You can answer in the comments or via email at email@example.com
And this is the end of season 1 of this blog (yes I’m talking in seasons because I’m TV show fanatic). I’m going to take a break for the summer and change a few things in my online home. So I won’t publish anything except to answer your comments.
I’ll be back in September with a lot of fascinating things. Until then I wanted to thank you all for following and reading this blog so far. Season 2 is coming. Enjoy the summer!