Recently, someone asked me what I’m looking for in a partner and I said, “I want to be inspired.” There was a moment of silence followed by “Hmm.” And I get it. It’s probably an unusual requirement, and hard to quantify or even discern. But put simply, an inspiring person is someone who can make us more fantastic than we already are.
Inspiration is that little jolt of energy that, even after 14 hour days, makes you want to jump up, do a few backflips, leap off a cliff, take a 200 foot plunge into icy waters and ask the question, “why not?” They are molecules of courage that, when concentrated through a channel (a song, a person, a philosophy), become a potent mix of heady belief and a sense of invincibility. You hopefully have the tools needed to convert those molecules into electricity that makes the mundane fascinating, a train ride into a 7-part bestselling book, a bath into one of the most enduring principles of physics. Once you are inspired, all your relationships draw from it, all your productive output drinks from that oasis of energy. The down side? It doesn’t come from within you and constantly needs to be replenished. You can appreciate it, but you can’t create it – not for yourself. You can just be the channel for someone else’s inspiration. And someone / something else needs to be the channel for you.
If you look at your “things I want in my boyfriend/husband” list over the years, you’ll see that there were things that inspired you. When you were a teenager, you’d probably put down things like cute smile, should be like Brad Pitt (or whoever else rocked your boat from a movie screen), good in sports. That list quickly changed to incorporate requirements of owning a motorbike (a big one, not the 100cc puny stuff), should be able to hold his drink and be able to have a conversation that spans Nietzsche’s philosophy to the perfect combination of pizza toppings. And have a cute smile. Then the bike became a swanky car, should have many friends, and being able to pay bills (dinner, rent, EMIs) became important. The importance of Nietzsche was lost to the inspired ability to make us laugh. Brad Pitt was forgotten in favor of “should have a decent body” (After all, we were no Angelina Jolie *smirk*). Oh, and the cute smile.
But as we grow older, amidst the debris of unachieved ambitions, shattered faith and pounding biological clocks, our energy jolt decreases in potency and our list becomes more realistic, less fanciful (and closer to what we think we’re likelier to get) until soon, it starts to read like a laundry list of deal breakers. Shouldn’t embarrass us in public, should have a job that pays okay, should not cheat on us (definitely no more than once). In the midst of all these compromises that we call reality checks, it becomes harder for us to tap into that dwindling shot of electricity that will make us better, brighter, more fantastic than we already are.
And the truth is – like most people, I’m not that fantastic. I’m kinda bright, sorta talented, have an interesting imagination, maybe even cute. That last one probably won’t last for much longer anyway and I can only hope that three out of four ain’t so bad on somebody’s list. Not just anybody, by the way. It's gotta be the somebody who makes my list. Otherwise it's just two people at dinner, one looking adoringly and the other wondering if the toilet window is big enough to let them escape. But with the right person? "Not that fantastic" changes into "Awe-fucking-some".
So make a list. A new one. Write down all the things that would inspire you. Mine would probably include things such as an above average IQ, understands what it means to look after and genuinely care about another person and doesn't shirk the responsibility that's inherent in that, an ability to empathize and be kind, passion and ambition for what he does. And a cute smile. As lists go, not bad at all.
Then be prepared to throw out that list because what you want may not necessarily be what you need. And because inspiration has been known to reside in left field and creep up when least expected. In reality, it could very well be encased in the homeless man who sits next to you on the train. Or the guy who's always around to help you out of a jam. Who knows? Whatever be the case, and whoever be the channel, I think it’s important to hold out for that person who makes us look at a sheer drop of 300 feet, finger that thin elastic band around our waist and say, "Why not?" to an adventure.
Everything else is just details. Except the smile. That's non-negotiable.