A week ago, I hosted a Happier Hour at my home with author and speaker Danielle LaPorte. It was a wonderful evening. Danielle sat in one of our black-and-white chairs and talked in her soothing voice about goal-setting and desire-mapping. She talked about how we need to stop focusing so linearly on accomplishments – on having gorgeous hard wood floors in our homes and big bucks in our bank accounts – and hone in on how we want to feel in life.
I know I was not the only one who was inspired. I know this because the feedback was tremendous and the conversations after her talk were rich and deep and different. She shook us up. And being shaken up is hard sometimes; it is not easy-breezy-whatever to wander into an evening thinking we know how we see the world and to arrive on its other end, well, not necessarily knowing.
The really cool thing is that Danielle stayed with us at our place for three nights. This meant that we had time. Down time. Time to sit in our comfy clothes and eat takeout burritos and late-night organic American cheese singles and talk. Really talk. About life, what matters, what we know, what we don’t know. It was a true treat, something I’m still processing. At one point, I admitted to her that I felt some guilt because we are paying two people to work in our home (our beloved nanny and our beloved housekeeper) so that we can hold it together, so that I can write. I told her that I think it would be good for me to finish my novel and make some money so that I feel like I am contributing.
And she asked me if this was really about money or if it was about doing something that mattered to me, finishing something that means a great deal. And I realized, and immediately too, that it was the latter, that this story I’ve been working on for years now is of profound importance to me and that giving myself permission to finish it must be a priority. There was a moment when we were sitting at my kitchen island and she looked me in the eye and said something, something I think I’ve been waiting for someone to say: “You need to just live in sweatpants and get it done.” And she is right. I’m figuring out how to do this, how to don those literal or proverbial sweatpants, and just get it done.
Anyway, I could go on and on, and I will and I won’t. What I will say is that I feel exceedingly fortunate to have people in my life – like Danielle – who are thoughtful and inspiring, who encourage me, and all of us, to think and re-think, to frame and re-frame, the important things. I know that not everyone is interested in existential exploration, in pondering desire and meaning and identity, but I am. I really am.
Last week, Danielle implored all of us to think about something: How do we want to feel? I’ve been giving this a lot of thought over the last week and have concluded that some of the things I want to feel are: noticed, observed, felt. I want people to see me, and hear me, and witness who I am and who I am becoming, the stories I am telling, the stories I am living. I think this is why I write and why I blog; it is out of a desire to be noticed, observed, felt. But Danielle also cautioned us against placing too much power in the hands of others; and she suggested that we are careful when we choose the words to describe what we want to feel. Along these lines, I think what I want, perhaps most of all, is to be noticing, observant, feeling.
Maybe this is why I am obsessed with small details. Details about my world and my girls and my fictional characters and myself. I am smitten with life’s metaphysical minutiae, clues to the people and places around me and within me. Anyway, I know this is rambling, but as always that’s a fine thing, a me thing. The point is that I wanted to come here today and say thank you to my friend Danielle for firing me up, for getting me to think hard and dream big and wonder freely, for telling me to lose the excuses and put on those yummy pants and write my story.
Who are you? What do you want? How do you want to feel in life? Are you able to answer these questions? Do you think there are people who never think about these things? Are they better or worse off?