I want to talk today about desire. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately after having read The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte. What do I really desire? What makes me feel really fulfilled and alive? What do I do that makes me feel good? What does feeling good even mean to me? What does that look like, taste like, feel like? It’s something I’ve started incorporating into my decision making, into my conversations, into the way I carry myself throughout my life. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…
For years I did things out of obligation. I did things because I thought I should do them. I did things I didn’t want to do because someone asked me to do them. I think this is something that most of us can relate to, at least to a certain degree. Lately, however, I’ve decided to push that way of being aside as much as possible, and instead start really doing the things I love, the things that light me up inside.
I gave a talk to a group of about two hundred university students today, discussing my work as an environmental organizer and attempting to get them excited about ways they can contribute to tackling some of the major crises of our time. The one theme I kept coming back to during that talk was desire. That simple word carries so much weight. And it carries so much freedom. When we really listen to the words it whispers in our ears and to the guidance it provides, it can create profound and blindingly brilliant shifts in the way we live our lives.
As someone who devotes a significant portion of my time to organizing around environmental and social justice issues, I particularly feel the need to take on roles because I should. But Danielle LaPorte says we must do the exact opposite.
Do not rise out of obligation.
Do not rise out of feared consequences.
Decide to rise because you want to expand – your being, your life, your possibilities.
Decide to rise because superpowers are meant to be activated and applied in every day life.
I love this.
There is so much gold in her book, I cannot even begin to do it justice in a single blog post. But the essence is this: We set goals. We orient our lives around achievements. But those goals might not make us happy. Achieving them feels like checking off boxes on a to do list. We set goals around what we believe we should do; we set benchmarks based on the pressures and stereotypes of society around us. What we need to do instead is create a beautiful and transformative shift to set goals based on what we desire, what lights us up inside, what sets our very bones aflame with feelings of sweet sweet satisfaction. Desire mapping. It’s a key to a lock we didn’t even know existed within our souls, and beneath it there is an awareness of our truest dreams.
Throughout her book, Danielle leads us on a journey to uncover what feelings we really desire. I wandered, both literally and figuratively, for a long time until I stumbled across the ones that felt true to me. I tried on different feelings. For a while courage and authenticity stood out to me. I wanted to feel courageous, I wanted to be willing to step outside of my comfort zone. I wanted the bravery to really express myself, authentically. But then I realized, for me, those were tools to achieve the feelings I actually desired, rather than the feelings themselves.
I hid away on an island for a weekend, without my phone or the internet, and dug deep to my core. Mala beads in hand and incense burning, I found my words. None of that, of course, is a prerequisite for desire. Your journey is your own. But whatever that journey is, trust in it. The words I stumbled upon are simple, and they feel so right.
Love. Spirit. Possibility. Joy. Belonging.
I desire to feel love, in the form of deep friendship and connection and the intimate stirring of the heart.
I desire to feel spirit, in the calm energy that courses through my body when I truly connect deeply with myself and with something greater than me.
I desire to feel possibility, in the anticipation of something bigger, in the hopeful embers in my soul, in the excitement of the unknown.
I desire to feel joy, as my body is broken open with unbridled bliss.
I desire to feel belonging, in knowing that I can simply be myself and feel truly accepted for who I am.
With these in hand, I can begin every single day and ask myself “What will I do to feel this way today?” I can make every decision with those five desired feelings in my mind. I can choose the people, the opportunities, the experiences, the destinations that serve my true desires. And by orienting my life around those things, not only do I feel more fulfilled, but I also feel more real, and more true to myself.
I can desire to rise in ways that make me glow, outwardly, and inwardly. I can be the best expression of myself because more of the things I do will fill me up to the brim with goodness, and then I will have so much more to give.