I’m still thinking about Dani O’Malley in Karen Marie Moning’s epic story, High Voltage. She haunts my thoughts because she is a great example of someone (albeit a fictional someone) who is “all in.” I’ve written about the elusive state of being all in before because it’s my very favorite state of being. What is it about being all in that I crave with every fiber of my being? I rummaged around in one of the many piles that litter my home office on every available surface to find some thoughts I had committed to paper a number of years ago.
I’ve mentioned my favorite personal development guru, Danielle LaPorte. She wrote the book, The Fire Starter Sessions that inspired this blog. It was LaPorte’s guidance— part education, part encouragement and part ass-kicking— that helped me clarify my thinking on what was important to me. Ms. LaPorte’s sequel, The Desire Map, focused on clarifying our feelings versus our thinking. Specifically, she asked, “How do you want to feel?” instead of, “What do you want to do?” Her theory is that if we can distill our desired feelings down to their essence, we can formulate a plan for how we want to achieve that state of being through concrete actions. It’s an interesting approach… which became entwined with my recent thinking about Dani. Naturally, I was compelled to try to detangle it all. It’s what I do.
Dani is all about desire. And, as Jericho Barrons explained in a previous Fever series book, desire is everything. Desire is what motivates us to do all that we do or don’t do. Lack of desire is fatal. When we stop wanting, we stop living. And no one is more alive than Dani. Maybe not even Barrons, my favorite fantasy boyfriend.
So, how do we want to feel? What is it we desire? This is a harder question than one would think. Ms. LaPorte takes a whole book of commentary and leading questions to help us get there. I spent a week in solitary retreat several years ago attempting to answer this question. I came out of that week (devoid of books, TV, magazines, phones or any other distractions) with some clues about what my innermost desires were, although not as many answers about how to achieve them as I’d hoped.
At the top of my list of desired end states was to feel “inspired.” This was the word I used to connote the feeling of being engaged, passionate, fulfilled, connected and integrated with something bigger. That feeling of being “all in”. It’s a natural high, a state of bliss, a source of energy that powers me to achieve things well beyond what I feel capable of doing in my more mundane states. Being inspired puts me on par with Dani’s superpowers because that’s where she lives all of the time. It’s the secret sauce that makes her tick. She’s drunk on life. As one of my friends put it, it’s the amazement of life that drives those of us who choose to, to look up and witness the wonderment. I choose to do that. I recommend the view.
I’ve spent a long time wishing I felt all in and wondering how to get there. Until one day a few weeks ago, it just fell out of the sky and infused me. Suddenly, I was there. I realized I was doing work I loved with people I respected profoundly. I am beyond grateful for this “all in” state. And while I’m not looking a gift horse in the mouth, I did wonder about the timing.
This led to a marathon discussion with a friend who shares my “all in” addiction. He chases it too, and has had more success than I. I’ve wondered about that. Why him and not me? Not that I begrudge him; I don’t. I just want to join him. And now I have and he was happy for me, as good friends are. And I realized the last time I felt so inspired was probably before my kids were born. The penny dropped.
I think that there’s a reason I haven’t experienced the acute inspiration that I’d felt previously with respect to vocations or avocations. In fact, there are two very good reasons and they are just about to leave home and go to college. I now realize that being all in at work or play is inimical to being an all in as a parent. It’s been such a huge, time-consuming, brain focusing job to raise these boys that there wasn’t room for total absorption in something else.
And now that my boys are leaving home and launching, I have the head and heart space to be inspired elsewhere. And, the Universe being what it is, I’ve now been given the best gift I could ever ask for—another chance to be all in—and a reminder about how amazing that feeling is in the form of Dani’s story in High Voltage.
I love presents. And surprises. I especially love them when they are wrapped up beautifully and presented when I least expect them. I’ve been given the gift of inspiration wrapped up in a bow of the best book I’ve read in a long time to show me the way. It’s Christmas in August. Lucky, lucky me.