Unless you live very near the equator, you have surely noticed the lengthening of light and longer days. With equinox upon us, we are near even, in terms of light and darkness. This time of year declares spring is en route, no matter how many feet of snow may yet remain. It’s a time of discovery and hope, seeing what has been in shadow these past many months.

Meanwhile, my most requested speaking topics do not reflect the optimism of a spring day. Wellbeing, mental health, and engagement are far and away the topics that people want addressed—on stage, in small groups. There is no question that we, as a species, are exhausted.

These past years have been tough. And yet, our culture doesn’t tend to acknowledge the impact of all the challenges we continue to face. I have watched audiences visibly exhale and shoulders relax when I say out loud that we are all struggling, all grieving, all depleted. It’s as if each person thinks we are the only ones having a hard time, so there is great relief in hearing that we are not alone in these feelings. Even my typically energetic and optimistic partner recently described her ‘day to day’ as being like trying to walk through deep sand.

There isn’t a quick fix for this.  It calls on all of us to hold more grace for each other (and ourselves) and to put our limited energy toward being real and present, there just aren’t the reserves necessary for pretending to be anything else.

As we try to make our way in these times, there is a muscle that has been under-used of late.  It’s curiosity.  Wild curiosity toward one another and ourselves.  It is a fabulous trait when used without judgement.  It can lift us up from other, darker feelings.

** For me, as I build my speaking business back up, I have found Wild curiosity to be like a rope tossed into a hole—a way out of worry and toward wonder for what this time holds, even excitement for what is to come.

**With others, I often ache over circumstances or illnesses my beloveds are facing, but when I can shift away from ache and move toward curiosity, I am a better friend and family member. I ask deeper questions, listen with a more tuned ear, and have a better sense of the slivers of goodness that reside within big challenges.  And indeed, I have witnessed stunning wisdom come from loved ones in the thick of hard, dark places.  That wisdom flows more freely when surrounded by more curiosity, less worry.

**In the workplace, leaders and teams wrestle with how to stay connected in our increasingly fragmented work environments, where co-workers are working remotely and are rarely in the same room, curiosity, again, helps bridge the gaps.  It’s why I love when cats jump on keyboards or kids run through a zoom call, it gives us a sense of life beyond the screen.  It leads to much needed humor and invites questions that bring us closer and build rapport.

I continue to press for real backgrounds and cameras on whenever possible as we work to stay connected while being physically apart.  Underneath these glimpses into each other’s lives is a key to connection…curiosity, questions, learning something you didn’t previously know about a co-worker.  All are a balm to our isolation and weariness.

As we begin to gain more and more daylight each day, it’s an invitation to bring ourselves out of the shadows, to start stretching and flexing our curiosity muscles, and recognize the deep value of feeling seen, heard, and welcomed.

We can do this.  The good news is, it’s energizing.  Learning, growing, re-connecting helps revitalize us, easing the weariness of indifference.  Springtime is a bright light invitation to step in, to reveal more, and to get our Wild curiosity muscles back in shape.

Image above is looking out from inside a giant tortoise shell (Galapagos).