Mind & Body

Follow Your Curiosity

Frances Moore Lappé, the author of "Diet for a Small Planet," says it's never too late to find your calling.

Follow Your Curiosity
Pin it Tanit Sakakini

In 1971, at the age of 27, Frances Moore Lappé published Diet for a Small Planet (Ballantine Books, 1991), an enormously influential book about world hunger and our global food system. Since then, she’s had two children, co-founded three organizations (including Small Planet Institute), written (or coauthored) 16 books (including one about fear written just after she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 59), and traveled around the globe.

How has your career changed now that you’re in your 60s? I have more confidence than I did early on. When I first wrote Diet for a Small Planet, I didn’t know if the solutions I was proposing were realistic; now I see that they work. The longer I live, the more I learn, and the more I have to give.

How can each of us find our calling? Follow your curiosity—even if it means venturing into the unknown and away from a secure path—and look for the answers to your own most pressing questions. I questioned why so many people go hungry every day, which led me to write Diet for a Small Planet.

What if fear is holding you back? Use that fear as a source of energy. When I wrote You Have the Power (Tarcher, 2005), my book about fear, I had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and had moved to a city where I hardly knew anyone. Every day, I woke up scared, went to my office, and somehow moved my fingers on the keyboard. Whenever my heart starts to pound, I think of it as my inner applause—it’s my body cheering me on to do something difficult.

How do people of different ages inspire you and keep you youthful? I’m very close with my two children and work directly with my daughter Anna. And I met my three newest friends through the World Future Council. They’re all in their late 20s and early 30s; I love their energy and how they don’t get bogged down by all the potential problems. They’re always saying, “Just go for it!”

And is it ever too late to fall in love? My father fell in love again in his 80s, so I saw firsthand that true love can happen anytime. And it does: I am madly in love with a man I have been with since my 50s. Ask yourself if you’re getting something from your relationship that is deep and profound. If the answer is yes, hang on to it.