“Hummingbirds” by Kristina, volunteer instructor

 I listened to a speech recently by Elizabeth Gilbert about the power of people who are “hummingbirds.” For years she had given motivational speeches about pursuing one’s passion. What she had failed to realize was that not everyone has found their passion, despite months, years, or even decades of searching. She discussed the beauty of chasing our curiosities instead and that sometimes this is how we find our true passion.

And sometimes not having a passion is how we enrich the world. Like a hummingbird, persistently moving from one flower to another, nourishing itself with every flavor, some of us have moved from one hobby or interest to another, and came away with knowledge and skills that many people do not possess. While having one passion to pursue is a beautiful, sustaining goal, Ms. Gilbert encourages us to let go of this obsession with having a passion, and follow our curiosity. This talk was very affirming for me, as I strongly related to the “hummingbird” people she described.

I feel comfortable now saying that writing is my passion. It has taken me a long time to get there. I have felt pulled in many directions throughout life, as evidenced by my education first in psychology, then in nursing. I’ve also pursued numerous self-taught hobbies like playing guitar, sewing, or cake-baking, all things in which I am still barely proficient. It is also scary to pursue my passion. What if I fail? What if I tell the world that I want to be a writer, that I have written things and submitted things and tried to convince people to pay me for the things I’ve written, and it doesn’t pan out? Am I still a writer if none of my writing ever sees the light of day?

Being part of the Indiana Prison Writers Workshop has helped me with answering some of these questions. None of these men have ever been paid to write anything, and few have submitted work or had work published. Many do not plan on being a writer. It is something they enjoy. It helps them cope with life. Yet I see them all as writers.

They show up every class, eager to listen and learn, eager to share their own writing with others, and eager to write. They write therefore they are writers. They are teaching me how to be a writer too. Publishing credits or dollar amounts for word counts or accepted submissions be damned. When I have something to say, I will pull out my notepad or laptop. I will get it all out quickly, furiously, passionately- engrossed in those moments when there is nothing else I should be doing. I will put it away and come back later, pretending I’m an editor, a reader, a mother, a stranger. When every version of me nods their head in approval, I will save it and send it into the world. I will show up to every class and encourage them to do the same. We write therefore we are writers.

I would encourage everyone to go find this short speech whether you’ve found your passion or not. It is available on Spotify or Apple Podcasts, via Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations Podcast, titled “Elizabeth Gilbert: The Curiosity-Driven Life.”

4 Replies to ““Hummingbirds” by Kristina, volunteer instructor”

  1. I love this! I can definitely relate to being a “hummingbird” person and what she says makes sense. I totally get where you are coming from when you talk about being a writer also! Thank you for sharing this. I’ll check out her speech.

  2. I am definitely a hummingbird. I have never found my total passion in life. I am an Environmental Specialist, community Health Educator, and a Nurse and not totally satisfied with any of these. I would love to find something in my life that excites a passion within me. I have yet to find that passion. Maybe-still have hope! Thanks for for defining the Hummingbird theory for me.

  3. Well said, Kristina. In the past, when asked what my dream was, I would reply that my dream was to have a dream! Pursuing curiosity is a better goal, allowing for limitless possibilities. Curiosity and passion are not mutually exclusive. I’m curious about everything, but my passion is writing, whether I’m good at it or not; whether it’s published or not; even whether anyone reads it or not. All that matters is the satisfaction I feel in my heart.

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