How to Discover Your Passion
"I'm gonna close my eyes."
Rapha and I are walking in City Square Mall, hands in hands. I am here in Singapore visiting him and we are going out for dinner. On a whim, I say “I’m gonna close my eyes now. And you lead me” “OK,” he replies, already used to my spontaneity.
I interlace my fingers with his, close my eyes. Rapha is walking on my left, a little bit in front. I sense the direction through the gentle pull of his arm and his voice whispering “Now 1 step down. Now 3 steps up.”
After some minutes, my mind begins to resist this strange new way of walking. “It’s Friday evening,” my mind screams, “There are many people walking in the mall! Someone is going to pump into me! I am going to fall and hurt myself!” Each time I raise my leg I fear I may kick something and fall face flat. My jaw tightens; my shoulders tense up; my steps become shorter; my stomach churns. My whole body is fighting back.
The more I observe this mind-body chain of reactions, the more I find it interesting.
What am I so afraid of? What can go wrong? I am not getting lost alone in a tropical forest, for God’s sake! I am walking in a shopping mall in Singapore, guided by one of the persons who love me most in the world! People around me are busy enjoying their evening; nobody wants to pump into me. And they’re not blind, they can avoid me.
What can go wrong again? Nothing!
I guide my body to relax, soften my jaw, loosen my shoulders, and relax the legs. I take some deep, slow breaths, and smile, try to move my feet and legs the same way I normally walk. I whisper to myself: “Replace fear with curiosity… Replace fear with curiosity…”After a minute of that, the fear is gone. I’m left with a sense of adventure and joy.
“Where are we now?” Rapha playfully asks.
“We are in Disneyland! Do you see Mickey Mouse?” I join the game.
“No but I see Donald Duck in his boxer over there!”
We both laughed.
Lion Gazzelle White Rabbit
This simple game shows how much we are comfortable with not knowing what may happen next. This then reveals our way of seeing life.
Do you see life as a dangerous and deceptive place? “It is tough. I must guard up. They are out to get me.” Like in the African savanna:
Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle: when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.
Do you feel that, as the sun comes up, you must run for your survival?
I refuse to see Life this way. I choose to see Life as Wonderland – full of adventures, learnings, and fascinating encounters. What’s the fun of knowing exactly how your life turns out? Every morning I wake up, open my arms, I whisper to life: “Surprise me! Show me what I do not know.”
Life is not a problem to be solved. Life is a mystery to be lived.”
I am Alice in Wonderland, all that I need to do is to follow the White Rabbit.
Follow the White Rabbit
In August 2014, when I, out of a pure love for writing, began to tell my stories in this blog. I didn’t expect it to have thousands of readers each month as it has now. The blog gained attention and brought me an invitation to be part-time copyeditor – for the first time in my life, I was paid to write. That job gives me learning and network; it helps me finance my blog, and yoga & art project.
In April, I held my first outdoor yoga class in Singapore. It was a free class, and 6 people showed up. I didn’t know what the class would bring; I was called to teach, and I must begin. That day I pretended to be calm, but inside I was trembling. That one first class gave me the confidence to begin teaching outdoor at the park every weekend until now. Yesterday October 4th, I ran another outdoor yoga class. It was a paid class, and 30 people came. The happy response of students inspires me to open my own Yoga & Art studio. “tiny Soulful Garden” is going to be opened in November, a sweet and cozy opening.
In March I drew my first Zentangle artwork, out of curiosity. I fell in love with the art and drew more. The artworks gained attention and brought me an invitation to lead a Zentangle workshop. I said yes. My voice was shaking in that first workshop. Still, it gives me the second workshop, and the third…Now I am running a full course on Zentangle and Creativity. Others began to order my artwork. They paid me to …draw! This gave me the idea for Artvana - a start-up project that offer meaningful artworks, 100% original and hand-drawn.
I’ve just celebrated 1 year-blogging. This blog has more than 130 stories. I am running writing workshops. And just last week, I received a book publishing invitation.
I left the copy-editing job in July 2015. I am now part-time blogger, artist, yoga teacher, entrepreneur. Full time human, dream for a living.
So you see. It is the writing, the blogging, the yoga practice, the drawing, the courage to follow what the heart commands - no matter how illogical, the closing my ears singing “La la la” when ego hisses fear in my earlobe. When I look in the mirror I see a little girl in a little world, following her heart, one step at a time, one day at a time. She is imperfect, and sometimes afraid; still, I love her dearly.
Wonder and Freedom
Others ask me: “How did you start?” As if starting has a great mystery to it; as if a thunder strikes across clean sky, spearing through the crown of my head. Lo and beho, I’m glowing in golden light, ready to claim my destiny.
None of that.
“How did you start?”
“I started from the beginning: exactly where I was.”
When I came back to Vietnam in August 2015. I was lost, and bored, and lack of self-esteem. I was broke and afraid. I didn’t know anything except that I wanted to write. That was the White Rabbit. I simply followed its trace.
“How do you see yourself in 5 years?” My friend asked
“I have no clue.” I say, not with anxiety, but with excitement. Uncertainty no longer makes me crunch the skin of my forehead.
Don’t call it uncertainty – call it wonder. Don’t call it insecurity – call it freedom.
You don’t know what’s gonna happen next. Isn’t it exciting? Like watching a movie with a plot full of surprises. We love this kind of movie, don’t we? So we spend too much time watching movie. We indulge ourselves in the surprises on the screen because our soul craves for this in our real life. We spend our time on the fake life instead, while our real life is wasted away. Think about it. Pretty tragic.
Life is uncertain. A good life is. Uncertainty is the reward for those free souls who refuse to take the highway, and decide to create their own path in the wood. It’s like walking with closed eyes in a shopping mall, there are nothing to be afraid of.
Ask “What’s the worst thing can happen?” Ask “What’s the greatest thing can happen?”
And say “Damn. They are experiences I am willing to taste. Because I want to learn all that I can about life and about me.”
Snap ourselves out of our silly fear, keep calm, and follow the White Rabbit.
Let go of certainty and security; they are expensive illusions. Choose wonder. Choose to be free.
Life happens. It goes on whether we decide to show up for it or not.
Life is the ocean. We can choose to never leave the shore, never see what’s there beyond the sunset where the orange sky and the ocean meet. Or we can choose to set sail and live the life of an explorer.
Life situations are the wind. The art of sailing has nothing to do with getting the whole sea organized and predictable. Because you simply cannot.
The art of sailing is all about understanding the wind, turning your sails and your steering wheel so that the wind takes our boat to the destination of our dream.
A smart sailor befriend the wind, not go against it. He knows that all wind is good wind. He says: “I know there’s something fascinating out there. I must go and find it. I must go to find out what I am capable of. I must go to find out how far I can go.”
He may reach his destination. He may not. But he touches the horizon and that orange sunset. He lies on the deck listening to the hum of the waves. He sees one thousand stars reflect on the grand mirror made of sea in a quiet night. A fish flaps its tail and flies up the sky; he hears it. He tastes the salty moist ocean breeze, feeling it caressing the back of his sweaty neck. His life is enriched by his journey. And it shows in his being: alive, full of joy, full of love, full of amazement and a sense of wonder.
“Wow…” he looks at the blue moon “This is it.”