Passion is an elusive bugger. Finding it is like trying to catch a fish with your bare hands. And once you’ve got it, there’s no guarantee it won’t wiggle right out of your fingers and swim away.

People lose their passion more often than I realized. When I attended Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk a couple months ago, I could hardly believe my ears when she confessed that she lost her passion for writing after the unexpected success of Eat, Pray, Love. This, from a wildly successful author who thinks of herself as married to writing!

Naturally, she was panicked. The love of her life had left her. But then she took a friend’s advice, stepped away from her writing and let her curiosity lead her on a new adventure…one that unfolded in her garden. She dug, planted, watered and harvested for months. She kept her mind off of it. Then one day, while she was digging in the dirt, her passion returned. When it did, she stood up, brushed off her knees, went inside and got back to work.

Gilbert recently talked about this “passionless time” and the importance of curiosity in an O article, and I think her advice is worth sharing:

“If you’ve lost your life’s true passion (or if you’re struggling desperately to find passion in the first place), don’t sweat it. Back off for a while. But don’t go idle, either. Just try something different, something you don’t care about so much. Why not try following mere curiosity, with its humble, roundabout magic? At the very least, it will keep you pleasantly distracted while life sorts itself out. At the very most, your curiosity may surprise you. Before you even realize what’s happening, it may have led you safely all the way home.”

If your passion slips through your fingers and swims out of reach, let it go for a while. Put it out of your mind and follow your curiosity wherever it may lead you. Just remember to bring a net because you never know when it will return.

Have you ever lost your passion? How did you reclaim it?

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